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Raffles 

Further Adventures of the 
Amateur Cracksman 



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RAFFLES 

NQ SINECURE 



I AM still uncertain which surprised me 
more^ the telegram calling my attention 
to the advertisement, or the advertisement 
itself. The telegram is before me as I 
write. It would appear to have been hand- 
ed in at Vere Street at eight o'clock in the 
morning of May ii, 1897, and received be- 
fore half-past at HoUoway B.O. And in 
that drab region it duly found me, unwashen 
but at work before the day grew hot and 
my attic insuj^rtable. 

'' See Mr. Maturin's advertisement Daily Mail 
might suit you earnestly beg try will speak if 
necessary " 

I transcribe the thing as I see it before 
me, all in one breath that took away mine; 
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Raffles 

but I leave out the initials at the end, which 
completed the surprise. They stood very 
obviously for the knighted specialist whose 
consulting-room is within a cab-whistle of 
Vere Street, and who once called me kins- 
man for his sins. More recently he had 
called me other names. I was a disgrace, 
qualified by an adjective which seemed to 
me another. I had made my bed, and I 
could go and lie and die in it. If I ever 
again had the insolence to show my nose 
in that house, I should go out quicker than 
I came in. All this, and more, my least 
distant relative could tell a poor devil to 
his face; could ring for his man, and give 
him his brutal instructions on the spot ; and 
then relent to the tune of this telegram 1 I 
have no phrase for my amazement. I lit- 
erally could not believe my eyes. Yet their 
evidence was more and more conclusive: 
a very epistle could not have been more 
characteristic of its sender. Meanly ellip- 
tical, ludicrously precise, saving half-pence 
at the expense of sense, yet paying like a 
man for " Mr." Maturin, that was my dis- 
tinguished relative from his bald patch to 



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his corns. Nor was all the rest unlike him, 
upon second thoughts. He had a reputa- 
tion for charity; he was going to live up 
to it after all. Either that, or it was the 
sudden impulse of which the most calculat- 
ing are capable at times ; the morning pa- 
pers with the early cup of tea, this adver- 
tisement seen by chance, and the rest upon 
the spur of a guilty conscience. 

Well, I must see it for myself, and the 
sooner the better, though work pressed. I 
was writing a series of articles upon prison 
life, and had my nib into the whole System ; 
a literary and philanthropical daily was pa- 
rading my " charges," the graver ones with 
the more gusto ; and the terms, if unhand- 
some for creative work, were temporary 
wealth to me. It so happened that my first 
cheque had just arrived by the eight o'clock 
post; and my position should be appreci- 
ated when I say that I had to cash it to 
obtain a Daily Mail 

Of the advertisement itself, what is to be 

said? It should speak for itself if I could 

find It, but I cannot, and only remember 

that it was a " male nurse and constant at- 

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tendant " that was " wanted for an elderly 
gentleman in feeble health." A male nurse I 
An absurd tag was appended, oflFering " lib- 
eral salary to University or public-school 
man " ; and of a sudden I saw that I should 
get this thing if I applied for it. What 
other "University or public-school man" 
would dream of doing so? Was any other 
in such straits as I? And then my relent- 
ing relative ; he not only promised to speak 
for me, but was the very man to do so. 
Could any recommendation compete with 
his in the matter of a male nurse? And 
need the duties of such be necessarily loath- 
some and repellent? Certainly the sur- 
roundings would be better than those of my 
common lodging-house and own particular 
garret ; and the food ; and every other con- 
dition of life that I could think of on my 
way back to that unsavoury asylum. So I 
dived into a pawnbroker's shop, where I was 
a stranger only upon my present errand, 
and within the hour was airing a decent if 
antiquated suit, but little corrupted by the 
pawnbroker's moth, and a new straw hat, 
on the top of a tram. 
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The address given in the advertisement 
was that of a flat at Earl's Court, which 
cost me a cross-country journey, finishing 
with the District Railway and a seven min- 
utes' walk. It was now past mid-day, and 
the tarry wood-pavement was good to smell 
as I strode up the Earl's Court Road. It 
was great to walk the civilised world again. 
Here were men with coats on their backs, 
and ladies in gloves. My only fear was lest 
I might run up against one or other whom 
I had known of old. But it was my lucky 
day. I felt it in my bones. I was going to 
get this berth ; and sometimes I should be 
able to smell the wood-pavement on the old 
boy's errands; perhaps he would insist on 
skimming over it in his bath-chair, with me 
behind. 

I felt quite nervous when I reached the 
flats. They were a small pile in a side 
street, and I pitied the doctor whose plate 
I saw upon the palings before the ground- 
floor windows ; he must be in a very small 
way, I thought. I rather pitied myself as 
well. I had indulged in visions of better 
flats than these. There were no balconies. 
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Raffles 

The porter was out of livery. There was 
no lift, and my invalid on the third floor! 
I trudged up, wishing I had never lived in 
Mount Street, and brushed against a de- 
jected individual coming down. A fulF- 
blooded young fellow in a frock-coat flung 
the right door open at my summons. 

"Does Mr. Maturin live here?" I in- 
quired. 

"That's right,"' said the full-blooded 
young man, grinning all over a convivial 
countenance. 

"I — IVe come about his advertisement 
in the Daily Mail" 

"You're the thirty - ninth," cried the 
blood; "that was the thirty-eighth you 
met upon the stairs, and the day's still 
young. Excuse my staring at you. Yes, 
you pass your prelim., and can come inside ; 
you're one of the few. We had most just 
after breakfast, but now the porter's head- 
ing off the worst cases, and that last chap 
was the first for twenty minutes. Come in 
here." 

And I was ushered into an empty room 
with a good bay-window, which enabled my 
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full-blooded friend to inspect me yet more 
critically in a good light ; this he did with- 
out the least false delicacy; then his ques- 
tions began. 

"'Varsity man?'* 

" No." 

"Public school?" 

"Yes." 

"Which one?" 

I told him, and he sighed relief. 

" At last ! You're the very first I've not 
had to argue with as to what is and what 
is not a public school. Expelled ? " 

"No," I said, after a moment's hesita- 
tion ; " no, I was not expelled. And I hope 
you won't expel me if I ask a question in 
my turn?" 

" Certainly not." 

" Are you Mr. Maturin's son? " 

"No, my name's Theobald. You may 
have seen it down below." 

"The doctor?" I said. 

" His doctor," said Theobald, with a sat- 
isfied eye. " Mr. Maturin's doctor. He is 
having a male nurse and attendant by my 
advice, and he wants a gentleman if he can 
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Raffles 

get one. t rather think hell see you, 
though he's only seen two or three all day. 
There are certain questions which he pre- 
fers to ask himself, and it's no good going 
over the same ground twice. So perhaps I 
had better tell him about you before we get 
any further." 

And he withdrew to a room still nearer 
the entrance, as I could hear, for it was a 
very small flat indeed. But now two 
doors were shut between us, and I had to 
rest content with murmurs through the 
wall until the doctor returned to summon 
me. 

"I have persuaded my patient to see 
you," he whispered, "but I confess I am 
not sanguine of the result. He is very dif- 
ficult to please. You must prepare yourself 
for a querulous invalid, and for no sinecure 
if you get the billet." 

" May I ask what's the matter with 
him?" 

"By all means — when youVe got the 
billet." 

Dr. Theobald then led the way, his pro- 
fessional dignity so thoroughly intact that 
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I could not but smile as I followed his 
swinging coat-tails to the sick-room. I car- 
ried no smile across the threshold of a dark- 
ened chamber which reeked of drugs and 
twinkled with medicine bottles, and in the 
middle of which a gaunt figure lay abed in 
the half-light. 

" Take him to the window, take him to 
the window," a thin voice snapped, "and 
let's have a look at him. Open the blind 
a bit. Not as much as that, damn you, not 
as much as that 1 " 

The doctor took the oath as though it 
had been a fee. I no longer pitied him. 
It was now very clear to me that he had 
one patient who was a litt4e practice in him- 
self. I determined there and then that he 
should prove a little profession to me, if 
we could but keep him alive between us. 
Mr. Maturin, however, had the whitest face 
that I have ever seen, and his teeth gleamed 
out through the dusk as though the with- 
ered lips no longer met about them; nor 
did they except in speech; and anything 
l;hastlier than the perpetual grin of his re- 
pose I defy you to imagine. It was with 
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Raffles 

this grin that he lay regarding me while 
the doctor held the Wind. 

" So you think you could look after me, 
do you?" 

" I'm certain I could, sir." 

" Single-handed, mind ! I don't keep an- 
other soul. You would have to cook your 
own grub and my slops. Do you think you 
could do all that?" 

" Yes, sir, I think so." 

"Why do you? Have you any experi- 
ence of the kind ? " 

" No, sir, none." 

" Then why do you pretend you have? " 

" I only meant that I would do my best." 

"Only meant, only meant 1 Have you 
done your best at everything else, then?" 

I hung my head. This was a facer. And 
there was something in my invalid which 
thrust the unspoken lie down my throat. 

" No, sir, I have not," I told him plainly. 

"He, he, hel" the old wretch tittered; 
" and you do well to own it ; you do well, 
sir, very well indeed. If you hadn't owned 
up, out you would have gone, out neck-and** 
crop 1 You've saved your bacon. You max 

ID 



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do more. So you are a public-school boy, 
and a very good school yours is, but you 
weren't at either University. Is that cor- 
rect?" 

"Absolutely." 

"What did you do when you left 
school?" 

" I came in for money." 

"And then?" 

" I spent my money." 

"And since then?" 

I stood like a mule. 

" And since then, I say I " 

" A relative of mine will tell you if you 
ask him. He is an eminent man, and he 
has promised to speak for me. I would 
rather say no more myself." 

" But you shall, sir, but you shall ! Do 
you suppose that I suppose a public-school 
boy would apply for a berth like this if 
something or other hadn't happened? What 
I want is a gentleman of sorts, and I don't 
much care what sort ; but you've got to tell 
me what did happen, if you don't tell any- 
body else. Dr. Theobald, sir, you can go 
to the devil if you won't take a hint. This 



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Raffles 

man may do or he may not. You have no 
more to say to it till I send him down to 
tell you one thing or the other. Clear out, 
sir, clear out ; and if you think you Ve any- 
thing to complain of, you stick it down in 
the bill!" 

In the mild excitement of our interview 
the thin voice had gathered strength, and 
the last shrill insult was screamed after the 
devoted medico, as he retired in such order 
that I felt certain he was going to take this 
trying patient at his word. The bedroom 
door closed, then the outer one, and the 
doctor's heels went drumming down the 
common stair. I was alone in the flat with 
this highly singular and rather terrible old 
man. 

" And a damned good riddance ! " croaked 
the invalid, raising himself on one elbow 
without delay. " I may not have much body 
left to boast about, but at least I've got a 
lost old soul to call my own. That's why I 
want a gentleman of sorts about me. I've 
been too dependent on that chap. He won't 
even let me smoke, and he's been in the 
flat all day to see I didn't. You'll find the 

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cigarettes behind the Madonna of the 
Chair." 

It was a steel engraving of the great 
Raffaelle, and the frame was tilted from 
the wall ; at a touch a packet of cigarettes 
tumbled down from behind. 

" Thanks ; and now a light." 

I struck the match and held it, while the 
invalid inhaled with normal lips ; and sud- 
denly I sighed. I was irresistibly reminded 
of my poor dear old Raffles. A smoke-ring 
worthy of the great A. J. was floating up- 
ward from the sick man's lips. 

"And now take one yourself. I have 
smoked more poisonous cigarettes. But 
even these are not SuUivans ! " 

I cannot repeat what I said. I have no 
idea what I did. I only know — I only knew 
— ^that it was A. J. Raffles in the flesh ! 



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ri 



" Yes, Bunny, it was the very devil of 
a swim; but I defy you to sink in the 
Mediterranean. That sunset saved me. 
The sea was on fire. I hardly swam under 
water at all, but went all I knew for the 
sun itself; when it set I must have been a 
mile away; until it did I was the invisible 
man. I figured on that, and only hope it 
wasn't set down as a case of suicide. I shall 
get outed quite soon enough, Bunny, but 
I'd rather be dropped by the hangman than 
throw my own wicket away." 

" Oh, my dear old chap, to think of hav- 
ing you by the hand again ! I feel as though 
we were both aboard that German liner, 
and all that's happened since a nightmare. 
I thought that time was the last ! " 

" It looked rather like it. Bunny. It was 
taking all the* risks, and hitting at every- 
thing. But the game came off, and some 
day I'll tell you how." 

"Oh, I'm in no hurry to hear. It's 
enough for me to see you lying there. I 
don't want to know how you came there, 
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or wHy, though I fear you must be pretty 
bad. I must have a good look at you be- 
fore I let you speak another word ! " 

I raised one of the blinds^ I sat upon the 
bed, and I had that look. It left me all 
unable to conjecture his true state of health, 
but quite certain in ray own mind that my 
dear Raffles was not and never would be 
the man' that he had been. He had aged 
twenty years; he looked fifty at the very 
least. His hair was white; there was no 
trick about that; and his face was another 
white. The lines about the comers of the' 
eyes and mouth were both many and deep^ 
On the other hand, the eyes themselves 
were alight and atert as ever; they were 
still keen and gray and gleaming, like finely 
tempered steel. Even the mouth, with a^ 
cigarette to close it, was the mouth of 
Raffles and no other: strong and unscrupu*- 
lous as the man himself. It was only the 
physical strength which appeared to have 
departed; but that was quite sufficient to; 
make my heart bleed for the dear rascal 
who had cost me every tie I valujsd but the 
tic between us two. 



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Raffles 

"Think I look much older?" fie asKea 
at length. 

" A bit," I admitted. " But it is chieflx 
your hair." 

" Whereby hangs a tale for when we've 
talked ourselves out, though I have often 
thought it was that long swim that started 
it. Still, the Island of Elba is a rummy 
show, I can assure you. And Naples is a 
rummier." 

" You went there after all ? " 

" Rather I It's the European paradise for 
such as our noble selves. But there's no 
place that's a patch on little London as a 
non-concjuctor of heat; it never need get 
too hot for a fellow here; if it does it's 
his own fault. It's the kind of wicket you 
'don't get out on, unless you get yourself 
.out. So here I am again, and have been 
for the last six weeks. And I mean to have 
another knock." 

" But surely, old fellow, you're not aw- 
fully fit, are you?" 

"Fit? My dear Bunny, I'm dead— I'm 
at the bottom of the sea-^and don't you 
forget it for a minute." 
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" But are you all right, or are you not? '* 
"No, I'm half-poisoned by Theobald's 
prescriptions and putrid cigarettes, and as 
weak as a cat from lying in bed." 
" Then why on earth lie in bed, Raffles? " 
" Because it's better than lying in gaol, 
as I am afraid you know, my poor dear 
fellow. I tell you I am dead ; and my one 
terror is of coming to life again by acci- 
dent. Can't you see? I simply dare not 
show my nose out of doors — ^by day. You 
have no idea of the number of perfectly 
innocent things a dead man daren't do. I 
can't even smoke SuUivans, because no one 
man was ever so partial to them as I was 
in my lifetime, and you never know when 
you may start a clue." 
" What brought you to these mansions? " 
"I fancied a fiat, and a man recom- 
mended these on the boat; such a good 
chap, Bunny; he was my reference when 
it came to signing the lease. You see I 
landed on a stretcher — ^n^ost pathetic case 
—old Australian without a friend in old 
country — ordered Engadine as last chance 
—no go — ^not an earthly — sentimental wish 
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Raffles 

to die in London — ^that's the history of 
Mr. Maturin. If it doesn't hit you hard, 
JSunny, youVe the. first. But it hit friend 
Theobald hardest of all. I'm an income 
to him. I believe he's going to marry on 
me. 
" Does he guess there's nothing wrong? " 
"Knows, bless youl But he doesn't 
loiow I know he knows, and there isn't a 
disease in the dictionary that he hasn't 
treated me for since he's had me in hand. 
To do him justice, I believe he thinks me 
a hypochondriac of the first water ; but that 
young man will go far if he keeps on the 
wicket. He has spent half his nights up 
here, at guineas apiece." 

" Guineas must be plentiful, old chap I " 
"They have been. Bunny. I can't say 
more. But I don't see why they shouldn't 
be again." 

I was not going to inquire where the 
guineas came from. As if I cared! But 
I did ask old Raffles how in the world he 
had got upon my tracks ; and thereby drew 
the sort of smile with which old gentlemen 
tub their hands, and old ladies nod their 
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noses. Raffles merely produced a perfect 
oval of blue smoke before replying. 

" I was waiting for you to ask that. 
Bunny; it's a long time since I did any- 
thing upon which I plume myself more. Of 
course, in the first place, I spotted you at 
once by these prison articles; they were 
not signed, but the fist was the fist of my 
sitting rabbit ! " 

" But who gave you my address ? " 

" I wheedled it out of )^ur excellent ediv- 
tor; called on him at dead of night, when 
I occasionally go afield like other ghosts, 
and wept it out of him in five minutes. I 
was your only relative ; your name was not 
your own name ; if he insisted I would give 
him mine. He didn't insist. Bunny, and I 
danced down his stairs with your address 
in my pocket." 

"Last night?" 

" No, last week." 

" And so the advertisement was yourt, as 
well as the telegram ! " 

I had, of course, forgotten both in the 
high excitement of the hour, or I should 
scarcely have announced my belated discov- 
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Raffles 

ery with such an air. As it was I made 
Raffles look at me as I had known him 
look before, and the droop of his eyelids 
began to sting. 

"Why all this subtlety?" I petulantly 
exclaimed. "Why couldn't you come 
straight away to me in a cab ? " 

He did not inform me that I was hope- 
less as ever. He did not address me as his 
good rabbit. He was silent for a time, 
and then spoke in a tone which made me 
ashamed of mine. 

" You see, there are two or three of me 
now, Bunny: one's at the bottom of the 
Mediterranean, and one's an old Australian 
desirous of dying in the old country, but in 
no immediate danger of dying anywhere. 
iThe old Australian doesn't know a soul in 
town; he's got to be consistent, or he's 
done. This sitter Theobald is his only 
friend, and has seen rather too much of 
him; ordinary dust won't do for his eyes. 
Begin to see? To pick you out of a crowd, 
that was the game ; to let old Theobald help 
to pick you, better still ! To start with he 
was dead against my having anybody at all ; 
to 



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wanted me all to himself, naturally; but 
an)rthing rather than kill the goose I So he 
is to have a fiver a week while he keeps me 
alive, and he's going to be married next 
month. That's a pity in some ways, but a 
good thing in others; he will want more 
money than he foresees, and he may always 
be of use to us at a pinch. Meanwhile he 
eats out of my hand." 

I complimented Raffles on the mere com- 
position of his telegram, with half the 
characteristics of my distinguished kinsman 
squeezed into a dozen odd words; and let 
him know how the old ruffian had really 
treated me. Raffles was not surprised ; we 
had dined together at my relative's in the 
old days, and filed for reference a profes- 
sional valuation of his household gods. I 
now learnt that the telegram had been 
posted, with the hour marked for its de- 
spatch, at the pillar nearest Vere Street, on 
the night before the advertisement was due 
to appear in the Daily Mail. This also had 
been carefully prearranged; and Raffles's 
only fear had been lest it might be held 
over despite his explicit instructions, and so 
ai 



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Raffles 

drive me to the doctor for an explanation of 
his telegram. But the adverse chances had 
been weeded out and weeded out to the ir- 
reducible minimum of risk. 

His greatest risk, according to Raffles, 
lay nearest home : bedridden invalid that he 
was supposed to be, his nightly terror was 
of running into Theobald's arms in the im- 
mediate neighbourhood of the flat. But 
Raffles had characteristic methods of mini- 
mising even that danger, of which some- 
thing anon; meanwhile he recounted more 
than one of his nocturnal adventures, all, 
however, of a singularly innocent type ; and 
one thing I noticed while he talked. His 
room was the first as you entered the flat. 
The long inner wall divided the room not 
merely from the passage but from the outer 
landing as well. Thus every step upon the 
bare stone stairs could be heard by Raffles 
where he lay; and he would never speak 
while one was ascending, until it had passed 
his door. The afternoon brought more than 
one applicant for the post which it was my 
•duty to tell them that I had already ob- 
tained. Between three and four, however, 

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Raffles, suddenly looking at his watch, 
packed me off in a hurry to the other end 
of London for my things. 

" Fm afraid you must be famishing, 
Bunny. It's a fact that I cat very little, 
and that at odd hours, but I ought not to 
have forgotten you. Get yourself a snack 
outside, but not a square meal if you can 
resist one. We've got to celebrate this day 
this night ! " 

"To-night?" I cried. 

"To-night at eleven, and Kellner's the 
place. You may well open your eyes, but 
we didn't go there much, if you remember, 
and the staff seems changed. Anyway we'll 
risk it for once. I was in last night, talking 
like a stage American, and supper's ordered 
for eleven sharp." 

" You made as sure of me as all that ! " 

" There was no harm in ordering supper. 
We shall have it in a private room, but you 
may as well dress if you've got the duds." 

" They're at my only forgiving relative's.*' 

" How much, will get them out, and 
square you up, and bring you hack bag and 
baggage in good time ? " 
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I had to calculate. 

" A tenner, easily." 

" I had one ready for you. Here it is, 
and I wouldn't lose any time if I were you. 
On the way you might look up Theobald, 
tell him you've got it and how long you'll 
be gone, and that I can't be left alone all 
the time. And, by Jove, yes ! You get me 
a stall for the Lyceum at the nearest agent's ; 
there are two or three in High Street ; and 
say it was given you when you come in. 
That young man shall be out of the way 
to-night." 

I found our doctor in a minute consulting- 
room and his shirt-sleeves, a tall tumbler at 
his elbow; at least I caught sight of the 
tumbler on entering; thereafter he stood in 
front of it, with a futility which had my 
sympathy. 

"So you've got the billet," said Dr. 
Theobald. "Well, as I told you before, 
and as you have since probably discovered 
for yourself, you won't find it exactly a 
sinecure. My own part of the business is 
by no means that ; indeed, there are those 
who would throw up the case, after the 
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kind of treatment that you have seen for 
yourself. But professional considerations 
are not the only ones, and one cannot make 
too many allowances in such a case." 

"But what is the case?" I asked him. 
" You said you would tell me if I was suc- 
cessful." 

Dr. Theobald's shrug was worthy of the 
profession he seemed destined to adorn; it 
was not incompatible with any construction 
which one chose to put upon it. Next mo- 
ment he had stiffened. I suppose I still 
spoke more or less like a gentleman. Yet, 
after all, I was only the male nurse. He 
seemed to remember this suddenly, and he 
took occasion to remind me of the fact. 

" Ah," said he, " that was before I knew 
you were altogether without experience; 
and I must say that I was surprised even 
at Mr. Maturin's engaging you after that ; 
but it will depend upon yourself how long 
I allow him to persist in so curious an ex- 
periment. As for what is the matter with 
him, my good fellow, it is no use my giv- 
ing you an answer which would be double 
Dutch to you ; moreover, I have still to test 
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Raffles 

your discretionary powers. I may say, 
however, that that poor gentleman presents 
at once the most complex and most trouble- 
some case, which is responsibility enough 
without certain features which make it all 
but insupportable. Beyond this I must re- 
fuse to discuss my patient for the present ; 
but I shall certainly go up if I can find time." 

He went up within five minutes. I found 
him there on my return at dusk. But he 
did not refuse my stall for the Lyceum, 
which Raffles would not allow me to use 
myself, and presented to him off-hand with- 
out my leave. 

" And don't you bother any more about 
me till to-morrow/' snapped the high thin 
voice as he was off. " I can send for you 
now when I want you, and I'm hoping to 
have a decent night for once." 



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III 

It was half-past ten when we left the 
flat, in an interval of silence on the noisy 
stairs. The silence was unbroken by our 
wary feet. Yet for me a surprise was in 
store upon the very landing. Instead of 
going downstairs, Raffles led me up two 
flights, and so out upon a perfectly flat rool 

" There are two entrances to these man- 
sions," he explained between stars and 
chimney-stacks : " one to our staircase, and 
another round the comer. But there's only 
one porter, and iie Jives on the basement 
underneath us, and affects the door nearest 
home. We miss him by using the wrong 
stairs, and we run less risk of old Theobald. 
I got the tip from the postmen, who come 
up one way and down the other. Now, 
follow me, and look out ! " 

There was indeed some necessity for cau- 
tion, for each .half of the building had its 
L-shaped well dropping sheer to the base, 
the parapets so low that one might easily 
have tripped over them into eternity. How- 
ever, we were soon upon the second stair- 
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Raffles 

case, which opened on the roof like the first 
And twenty minutes of the next twenty- 
five we spent in an admirable hansom, skim- 
ming east. 

" Not much change in the old hole, 
Bunny. More of these magic-lantern ad- 
vertisements . . . and absolutely the 
worst bit of taste in town, though it's say- 
ing something, in that equestrian statue 
with the gilt stirrups and fixings; why 
don't they black the buffer's boots and his 
horse's hoofs while they are about it ? . . . 
More bicyclists, of course. That was just 
beginning, if you remember. It might have 
been useful to us. . . . And there's the 
old club, getting put into a crate for the 
Jubilee; by Jove, Bunny, we ought to be 
there. I wouldn't lean forward in Picca- 
dilly, old chap. If you're seen I'm thought 
of, and we shall have to be jolly careful at 
Kellner's. . . . Ah, there it is! Did I 
tell you I was a low-down stage Yankee at 
Kellner's? You'd better be another, while 
the waiter's in the room." 

We had the little room upstairs ; and on 
the very threshold I, even I, who knew my 
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RafHes of old, was taken horribly aback. 
The table was laid for three. I called his 
attention to it in a whisper. 

"Why, yep!" came through his nose. 
" Say, boy, the lady, she's not comin', but 
you leave that tackle where 'tis. If I'm 
liable to pay, I guess I'll have all there is 
to it." 

I have never been in America, and the 
American public is the last on earth that 
I desire to insult ; but idiom and intonation 
alike would have imposed upon my inex- 
perience. I had to look at Raffles to make 
sure that it was he who spoke, and I had 
my own reasons for looking hard. 

"Who on earth was the lady?" I in- 
quired aghast at the first opportunity. 

"She isn't on earth. They don't like 
wasting this room on two, that's all. Bunny 
— ^my Bunny — ^here's to us both 1 " 

And we clinked glasses swimming with 
the liquid gold of Steinberg, 1868; but of 
the rare delights of that supper I can 
scarcely trust myself to write. It was no 
mere meal, it was no coarse orgy, but a lit- 
tle feast for the fastidious gods, not un^* 
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Raffles 

worthy of LucuUus at his worst. And I 
who had bolted my skilly at Wormwood 
Scrubbs, and tightened my belt in a Hollo- 
way attic, it was I who sat down to this 
ineffable repast! Where the courses were 
few, but each a triumph of its kind, it would 
be invidious to single out any one dish ; but 
the Jambon de Westphalie au Champagne 
tempts me sorely. And then the champagne 
that we drank, mot the quantity but the 
quality ! Well, it was Pol Roger, '84, and 
quite good enough for me; but even so it 
was not more dry, nor did it sparkle more, 
than the merry rascal who had dragged 
me thus far to the devil, but should lead me 
dancing the rest of the way. I was begin- 
ning to tell him so. I had done my honest 
best since my reappearance in the world ; 
but the world had done its worst by me. A 
further antithesis and tny final intention 
were both upon my tongue when the waiter 
with the Chateau Margaux cut me short; 
for he was the bearer of more than that 
great wine ; bringing also a card upon ;a 
silver tray. 
" Show -him up," said Raffles, laconically. 
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"And who is this?" I cried when the 
man was gone. Raffles reached across the 
table and gripped my arm in his vice. His 
eyes were steel points fixed on mine. 

" Bunny, stand by me," said he in the old 
irresistible voice, a voice both stem and 
winning. " Stand by me. Bunny — if there's 
a row ! " 

And there was time for nothing more, the 
door flying open, and a dapper person en^ 
tering with a bow ; a frock-coat on his back, 
gold pince-nez on his nose ; a shiny hat in 
one hand, and a black bag in the other. 

" Good-evening, gentlemen," said he, at 
home and smiling. 

" Sit down," drawled Raffles in casual 
response. " Say, let me introduce you to 
Mr. Ezra B. Martin, of Shicawgo- Mr. 
Martin is my future brother-in-law. This 
is Mr. Robinson, Ezra, manager to Sparks 
& Company, the cellerbrated joolers on Re- 
gent Street." 

I pricked up my earSj but contented my- 
self with a nod. I altogether distrusted my 
ability to live up to my new name and ad- 
dress. 

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Raffles 

"I figured on Miss Martin bein' right 
here, too," continued Raffles, " but I regret 
to say she's not feelin' so good. We light 
out for Parrus on the 9 a.m. train to-morrer 
mornin*, and she guessed she'd be too dead. 
Sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Robinson; 
but you'll see I'm advertisin' your wares." 

Raffles held his right hand under the 
electric light, and a diamond ring flashed 
upon his little finger. I could have sworn 
it was not there five minutes before. 

The tradesman had a disappointed face, 
but for a moment it brightened as he ex- 
patiated on the value of that ring and on 
the price his people had accepted for it. I 
was invited to guess the figure, but I shook 
a discreet head. I have seldom been more 
taciturn in my life. 

" Forty-five pounds," cried the jeweller ; 
" and it would be cheap at fifty guineas." 

" That's right," assented Raffles. " That'd 
be dead cheap, I allow. But then, my boy, 
you gotten ready cash, and don't you for- 
get it." 

I do not dwell upon my own mystification 
in all this. I merely pause to state that I 
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No Sinecure 

was keenly enjoying that very element. 
Nothing could have been more typical of 
Raffles and the past. It was only my own 
attitude that was changed. 

It appeared that the mythical lady, my 
sister, had just become engaged to Raffles, 
who seemed all anxiety to pin her down 
with gifts of price. I could not quite gather 
whose "gift to whom was the diamond ring; 
but it had evidently been paid for; and I 
voyaged to the moon, wondering when and 
how. I was recalled to this planet by a 
deluge of gems from the jeweller's bag. 
They lay alight in their cases like the elec- 
tric lamps above. We all three put our 
heads together over them, myself without 
the slightest clue as to what was coming, 
but not unprepared for violent crime. One 
does not do eighteen months for nothing. 

"Right away," Raffles was saying. 
"Well choose for her, and you'll change 
anything she don't like. Is that the idea? " 

" That was my suggestion, sir." 

" Then come on, Ezra. I guess you know 
Sadie's taste. You help me choose." 

And we chose — lord 1 What did we not 
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Raffles 

choose? There was her ring, a diamond 
half-hoop. It cost £95, and there was no 
attempt to get ft for £90. Then there was 
a diamond necklet — ^two hundred guineas 
but pounds accepted. That was to be -the 
gift of the bridegroom. The wedding was 
evidently imminent. It behoved me to 
play a brotherly part. I therefore rose to 
the occasion; calculated she would like a 
diamond star (£116), but reckoned it was 
more than I could afford ; and sustained a 
vicious kick under the table for either verb. 
I was afraid to open my mouth on finally 
obtaining the star for the round hundred. 
And then the fat fell in the fire; for 
pay we could not; though a remittance 
(said Raffles) was "overdo from Noo 
York." 

" But I don't know you, gentlemen," the 
jeweller exclaimed. "I haven't even the 
name of your hotel ! " 

"I told you we was stoppin' with 
friends," said Raffles, who was not angry, 
though thwarted and crushed. " But that's 
right, sir! Oh, that's dead right, and I!m 
the last .man to ask you to take Quixotic 
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No Sinecure 

ri^s. I'm tryin* to figure a way out. Yes^ 
sir, that's what Fm tryin' to do." 

" I wish you could, sir," the jeweller saidj 
with, feeling. " It isn't as if we hadn't seen 
the colour of your mon^. But certain rules 
I am sworn. to observe; it isn^t as if I was 
in business for myself; and — ^you say you 
start for Paris in the morning ! " 

"On the 9 a.m, train," mused Raffles; 
^'and I've heard no-end yarns about the 
joolers' stores in Parrus. But that ain't 
fair ; don't you take no notice o' that. I'm 
try in' to figure a way out. Yes, sir! " 

He was smoking cigarettes out of a 
twenty-five box; the tradesman and I had 
cigars. Raffles sat frowning with a preg- 
nant eye, and it was only too clear to me 
that his plans had miscarried. I could not 
help thinking, however, that they deserved 
to do so, if he had counted upon buying 
credit for all but £406 by a single pajrment 
of some ten per cent. That again seemed 
unworthy of Raffles, and I, for my part, 
still sat prepared to spring any moment at 
our visitor's throat. 

"We could mail you the money from 
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Raffles 

Partus," drawled RafHes at length. " But 
how should we know you'd hold up your 
end of the string, and mail us the same ar- 
ticles we've selected to-night?" 

The visitor stiffened in his chair. The 
name of his firm should be suflScient guar- 
antee for that. 

" I guess I'm no better acquainted with 
their name than they are with mine," re- 
marked Raffles, laughing. " See here, 
though! I got a scheme. You pack 'em 
in this!" 

He turned the cigarettes out of the tin 
box, while the jeweller and I joined won- 
dering eyes. 

" Pack 'em in this," repeated RafHes, " the 
three things we want, and never mind the 
boxes; you can pack *em in cotton-wool. 
Then we'll ring for string and sealing wax, 
seal up the lot right here, and you can take 
'em away in your grip. Within three days 
we'll have our remittance, and mail you the 
money, and you'll mail us this darned box 
with my seal unbroken! It's no use you 
lookin' so sick, Mr. Jooler ; you won't trust 
us any, and yet we're goin* to trust you 
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No Sinecure 

some. Ring the bell, Ezra, and we'll see 
if they've gotten any sealing-wax and 
string." 

They had ; and the thing was done. The 
tradesman did not like it; the precaution 
was absolutely unnecessary; but since he 
was taking all his goods away with him, 
the sold with the unsold, his sentimental 
objections soon fell to the ground. He 
packed necklet, ring, and star, with his own 
hands, in cotton- wool; and the cigarette- 
box held them so easily that at the last mo- 
ment, when the box was closed, and the 
string ready, Raffles very nearly added a 
diamond bee-brooch at £51 los. This temp- 
tation, however, he ultimately overcame, to 
the other's chagrin. The cigarette-box was 
tied up, and the string sealed, oddly enough, 
with the diamond of the ring that had been 
bought and paid for. 

" I'll chance you having another ring in 
the store the dead spit of mine," laughed 
Raffles, as he relinquished the box, and it dis- 
appeared into the tradesman's bag. " And 
now, Mr. Robinson, I hope you'll appreciate 
my true hospitality in not offering you any- 
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Raffles 

thing to drink while business was in prog-^ 
ress. That's Chateau Margaux, sir^ and I 
should judge it's what you'd call an eigh- 
teen-carat article." 

In the cab which we took to the vicinity 
of the flat, I was instantly snubbed for 
asking questions which the driver might 
easily overhear, and I took the repulse just 
a little to heart. I could make neither head 
nor tail of Raffles's dealings with the man 
from Regent Street, and was naturally in* 
quisitive as to the meaning of it all. But 
I held my tongue until we had regained the 
flat in the cautious manner of our exit, and 
even there until Raffles rallied me with a 
hand on either shoulder and an old smile 
upon his face. 

" You rabbit ! " said he. " Why couldn't 
you wait till we got home ? " 

"Why couldn't you tell me what you 
were going to do ? " I retorted as of yore. 

" Because your dear old phiz is still worth 
its weight in innocence, and because you 
never could act for nuts! You looked as 
puzzled as the other poor devil; but you 
wouldn't if you had known what my game 
really was." 

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*' And pray what was it ? " 

*' That/' said Raffles, and he smacked tfai^ 
cigarette-box down upon the mantelpiece. 
It was not tied. It was not sealed It flew 
open from the force of the impact. And 
the diamond ring diat cost £95, the necklet 
for i200, and my flaming star at another 
iioo, all three lay safe and snug in the 
jeweller's own cotton-wool ! 

" Duplicate boxes ! " I cried. 

"Duplicate boxes, my brainy Bunny. 
One was already packed, and weighted, and 
in my pocket. I don't know whether you 
noticed me weighing the three things to- 
gether in my hand? I know that neither 
of you saw me change the boxes, for I did 
it when I was nearest buying the bee- 
broodi at the end, and you were too puz- 
zled, and the other Johnny too keen. It 
was the cheapest shot in the game ; the dear 
ones were sending old Theobald to South- 
ampton on a fool's errand yesterday after- 
noon, and showing one's own nose down 
Regent Street in broad daylight while he 
was gone ; but some things are worth pay- 
ing for, and certain risks one must always 
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Raffles 

take. Nice boxes, aren't they? I onlj; 
wished they contained a better cigarette; 
but a notorious brand was essential ; a box 
of SuUivans would have brought me to life 
to-morrow/' 

" But they oughtn't to open it to-mor- 
row." 

"Nor will they, as a matter of fact. 
Meanwhile, Bunny, I may call upon you to 
dispose of the boodle." 

" I'm on for any mortal thing! " 

My voice rang true, I swear, but it was 
the way of Raffles to take the evidence of 
as many senses as possible. I felt the cold 
steel of his eye through mine and through 
my brain. But what he saw seemed to 
satisfy him no less than what he heard, for 
his hand found my hand, and pressed it 
with a fervour foreign to the man. 

" I know you are, and I knew you would 
be. Only remember, Bunny, it's my turn 
next to pay the shot! " 

You shall hear how he paid it when the 
time came. 



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A JUBILEE PRESENT 

THE Room of Gold, in the British Mu- 
seum, is probably well enough known 
to the inquiring alien and the travelled 
American. A true Londoner, however, I 
myself had never heard of it until Raffles 
casually proposed a raid. 

"The older I grow. Bunny, the less I 
think of your so-called precious stones. 
When did they ever bring in half their 
market value in £. s. d.? There was the 
first little crib we ever cracked together 
— ^you with your innocent eyes shut. A 
thousand pounds that stuff was worth ; but 
how many hundreds did it actually fetch? 
The Ardagh emeralds weren't much better ; 
old Lady Melrose's necklace was far worse ; 
but that little lot the other night has about 
finished me. A cool hundred for goods 
priced well over four ; and £35 to come off 
for bait, since we only got a tenner for the 
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Raffles 

ring I bought and paid for like an ass. I'll 
be shot if I ever touch a diamond again! 
Not if it was the Koh-i-noor; those few 
whacking stones are too well known, and 
to cut them up is to decrease their value 
by arithmetical retrogression. Besides, that 
brings you up against the Fence once more, 
and Fm done with the beggars for good 
and alL You talk about your editors and 
publishers, you literary swine. Barabbas 
was neither a robber nor a puWi^er, but 
a six-barred, barbed, wired, spike-toppcd 
Fence. What we really want is an Incor- 
porated Society of Thieves, with some pub- 
lic-^irtted old forger ta run it for us on 
tmsiness lines/' 

Raffies uttered these blasphemies under 
his breath, not, I am afraid, out of any 
respect for my one redeeming profession, 
but because we were taking a midnight air- 
ing: on the roof, after a whole day of June 
in the little flat below. The stars shone 
overhead, the lights of London underneath, 
and between the lips of Raffles a cigarette 
of the oFd and only brand. I had sent in 
secret for a box of the best; the boon had 
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A Jubilee Present 

arrived that night; and the foregoing 
speech was the first result. I could afford 
to ignore the insolent asides, however, 
where the apparent contention was so mani* 
festly unsound. 

" And how are you going to get rid of 
your gold? " said I, pertinently. 

" Nothing easier, my dear rabbit." 

" Is your Room of Gold a roomful of 
sovereigns?" 

Raffles laughed softly at my scorn. 

" No, Bunny, it's principally in the shape 
of archaic ornaments, whose value, I admit, 
is largely extrinsic. But gold is gold, from 
Phcenicia to Klondike, and if we cleared 
the room we should eventually do very 
well." 

"How?" 

" I should mdt it down into a nugget, 
and bring it home from the U.S.A. to- 
morrow." 

"And then?" 

" Make them pay up in hard cash across 
the counter of the Bank of England. And 
you can make them." 

That I knew, and so said nothing for a 
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Raffles 

time, remaining a hostile though a silent 
critic, while we paced the cool black leads 
with our bare feet, softly as cats. 

" And how do you propose to get enough 
away," at length I asked, " to make it worth 
while?" 

"Ah, there you have it," said Raffles. 
*' I only propose to reconnoitre the ground, 
to see what we can see. We might find 
some hiding-place for a night; that, I am 
afraid, would be our only chance." 

"Have you ever been there before?" 

" Not since they got the one good, port- 
able piece which I believe that they exhibit 
now. It's a long time since I read of it^- 
I can't remember where — ^but I know they 
have got a gold cup of sorts worth several 
thousands. A number of the immorally 
rich clubbed together and presented it to 
the nation ; and two of the richly immoral 
intend to snaffle it for themselves. At any 
rate we might go and have a look at it, 
Bunny, don't you think?" 

Think ! I seized his arm. 

"When? When? When?'' I asked, 
like a quick-firing gun. 
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A Jubilee Present 

** The sooner the better, while old Theo- 
bald's away on his honeymoon." 

Our medico had married the week before, 
nor was any fellow-practitioner taking his 
work — ^at least not that considerable branch 
of it which consisted of Raffles — during his 
brief absence from town. There were rea- 
sons, delightfully obvious to us, why such 
a plan would have been highly unwise in 
Dr. Theobald. I, however, was sending 
him daily screeds, and both matutinal and 
nocturnal telegrams, the composition of 
which afforded Raffles not a little enjoy- 
ment. 

'* Well, then, when— when? " I began to 
repeat. 

" To-morrow, if you like." 

"Only to look?" 

The limitation was my one regret. 

" We must do so, Bunny, before we leap." 

" Very well," I sighed. " But to-morrow 
it is!" 

And the morrow it really was. 

I saw the porter that night, and, I still 
think, bought his absolute allegiance for the 
second coin of the realm. My story, how- . 
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Raffles 

ever, invented by Raffles, was sufficiently 
specious in itself. That sick gentleman, 
Mr. Maturin (as I had to remember to call 
him), was really, or apparently, sickening 
for fresh air. Dr. Theobald would allow 
him none; he was pestering me for just 
one day in the country while the glorious 
weather lasted. I was myself convinced 
that no possible harm could come of the ex- 
periment. Would the porter help me in so 
innocent and meritorious an intrigue? The 
man hesitated. I produced my half-sove- 
reign. The man was lost. And at half-past 
eight next morning — ^before the heat of the 
day — Raffles and I drove to Kew Gardens 
in a hired landau which was to call for us 
at mid-day and wait until we came. The 
porter had assisted me to carry my invalid 
downstairs, in a carrying-chair hired (like 
the landau) from Harrod's Stores for the 
occasion. 

It was little after nine when we crawled 
together into the gardens ; by half-past my 
invalid had had enough, and out he tottered 
on my arm ; a cab, a message to our coach- 
man, a timely train to Baker Street, another 
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A Jubilee Present 

cab, and we were at the British Museum — 
brisk pedestrians now — not very many min- 
utes after the opening hour of lo a.m. 

It was one of those glowing days which 
will not be forgotten by many who were in 
town at the time. The Diamond Jubilee 
was upon us, and Queen's weather had al- 
ready set in. Raffles, indeed, declared it 
was as hot as Italy and Australia put to- 
gether; and certamly the short summer 
nights gave the channels of wood and as- 
phalt and the continents of brick and mortar 
but little time to cool. At the British Mu- 
seum the pigeons were crooning among the 
shadows of the grimy colonnade, and the 
stalwart janitors looked less stalwart than 
usual, as though their medals were too heavy 
for them. I recognised some habitual Read- 
ers going to their labour underneath the 
dome ; of mere visitors we seemed among 
the first. 

" That's the room,'' said Raffles, who had 
bought the two-penny guide, as we studied 
it openly on the nearest bench; "number 
43, upstairs and sharp round to the right. 
Come on. Bunny!" 

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Raffles 

And he led the way in silence, but with 
a long methodical stride which I could not 
understand until we came to the corridor 
leading to the Room of Gold, when he 
turned to me for a moment. 

" A hundred and thirty-nine yards from 
this to the open street," said RafHes, " not 
counting the stairs. I suppose we could do 
it in twenty seconds, but if we did we should 
have to jump the gates. No, you must re- 
member to loaf out at slow march. Bunny, 
whether you like it or not." 

" But you talked about a hiding-place for 
anight?" 

"Quite so — for all night. We should 
have to get back, go on lying low, and 
saunter out with the crowd next day — after 
doing the whole show thoroughly." 

" What I With gold in our pockets " 

" And gold in our boots, and gold up the 
sleeves and legs of our suits! You leave 
that to me. Bunny, and wait till you've tried 
two pairs of trousers sewn together at the 
foot! This is only a preliminary recon- 
noitre. And here we are." 

It is none of my business to describe the 
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so-called Room of Gold, with which I, for 
one, was not a little disappointed. The 
glass cases, which both fill and line it, may 
contain unique examples of the goldsmith's 
art in times and places of which one heard 
quite enough in the course of one's classical 
education; but, from a professional point 
of view, I would as lief have the ransacking 
of a single window in the West End as the 
pick of all those spoils of Etruria and of 
ancient Greece. The gold may not be so 
soft as it appears, but it certainly looks as 
though you could bite off the business ends 
of the spoons, and stop your own teeth in 
doing so. Nor should I care to be seen 
wearing one of the rings ; but the greatest 
fraud of all (from the aforesaid standpoint) 
is assuredly that very cup of which RafRes 
had spoken. Moreover, he felt this him- 
self. 

"Why, It's as thin as paper," said he, 
" and enamelled like a middle-aged lady of 
quality ! But, by Jove, it's one of the most 
beautiful things I ever saw in my life, 
Bunny. I should like to have it for its own 
sake, by all my gods I '* 
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The thing had a little square case of 
plate-glass all to itself at one end of the 
room. It may have been the thing of 
beauty that Raffles affected to consider it, 
but I for my part was in no mood to look 
at it in that light Underneath were the 
names of the plutocrats who had subscribed 
for this national gewgaw, and I fell to won- 
dering wliere their i8/xx) came in, while 
Raffles devoured his two-penny guide-book 
as greedily as a school-girl with a zeal for 
culture. 

"Those are scenes from the martyrdom 
of St. Agnes," said he ..." * translu- 
cent on relief . . . one of the finest 
specimens of its kind.' I should think it 
was ! Bunny, you Philistine, why can't you 
admire the thing for its own sake? It 
would be worth having only to live up to! 
There never was such rich enamelling on 
such thin gold; and what a good scheme 
to hang the Hd up over it, so that you can 
see how thin it is. I wonder if we could 
lift it, Bunny, by hook or crook? " 

" You'd better try, sir," said a dry voice 
at his elbow. 

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The madman seemed to think we had the 
room to ourselves. I knew better, but, like 
another madman, had let him ramble on 
unchecked. And here was a stolid constable 
confronting us, in the short tunic that they 
wear in summer, his whistle on its chain, 
but no truncheon at his side. Heavens 1 
how I see him now : a man of medium size, 
with a broad, good-humoured, perspiring 
face, and a limp moustache. He looked 
sternly at Raffles, and Raffles looked merrily 
at him. 

"Going to run me in, officer?" said he, 
" That would be a joke — my hat! " 

" I didn't say as I was, sir," replied the 
policeman. "But that's queer talk for a 
gentleman like you, sir, in the British Mu- 
seum ! " And he wagged his helmet at my 
invalid, who had taken his airing in frock- 
coat and top-hat, the more readily to as- 
sume his present part. 

"What!" cried Raffles, "simply saying 
to my friend that I'd like to lift the gold 
cup? Why, so I should, officer, so I should ! 
I don't mind who hears me say so. It's 
one of the most beautiful things I ever saw 
in all my life." 

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The constable's face had already relaxed, 
and now a grin peeped under the limp mous- 
tache. "I daresay there's many as feels 
like that, sir," said he. 

" Exactly ; and I say what I feel, that's 
all," said Raffles airily. "But seriously, 
officer, is a valuable thing like this quite 
safe in a case like that? " 
\ " Safe enough as long as I'm here," re- 
plied the other, between grim jest and stout 
earnest. Raffles studied his face; he was 
still watching Raffles; and I kept an eye 
on them both without putting in my word, 

"You appear to be single-handed," ob- 
served Raffles. " Is that wise ? " 

The note of anxiety was capitally caught; 
it was at once personal and public-spirited, 
that of the enthusiastic savant, afraid for a 
national treasure which few appreciated as 
he did himself. And, to be sure, the three 
of us now had this treasury to ourselves; 
one or two others had been there when we 
entered; but now they were gone. 

" I'm not single-handed," said the officer, 
comfortably. " See that seat by the door? 
One of the attendants sits there all day 
long." 

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** Then where is he now? " 

" Talking to another attendant just out- 
side. If you listen you'll hear them for 
yourself." 

We listened, and we did hear them, but 
not just outside. In my own mind I even 
questioned whether they were in the cor- 
ridor through which we had come; to me 
it sounded as though they were just out- 
side the corridor. 

'' You mean the fellow with the biliiard- 
cue who was here when we came in? " pur- 
sued Raffles. 

''That wasn't a billiard-cue I It was a 
pointer," the intelligent officer explained. 

" It ought to be a javelin," said Raffles, 
nervously. " It ought to be a poleaxe ! 
The public treasure ought to be better 
guarded than this. I shall write to the 
Times about it — ^you see if I don't ! " 

All at once, yet somehow not so suddenly 
as to excite suspicion, Raffles had become 
the elderly busjrbody with nerves; why, I 
could not for the life of me imagine ; and 
the policeman seemed equally at sea. 

*^ Lor' bless you, sir," said he, " I'm all 
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right; don't you bother your head about 
me/' 

" But you haven't even got a truncheon ! " 

"Not likely to want one either. You 
see, sir, it's early as yet ; in a few minutes 
these here rooms will fill up; and there's 
safety in numbers, as they say." 

" Oh, it will fill up soon, will it? " 

" Any minute now, sir." 

"Ahl" 

" It isn't often empty as long as this, sir. 
It's the Jubilee, I suppose." 

" Meanwhile, what if my friend and I had 
been professional thieves ? Why, we could 
have overpowered you in an instant, my 
good fellow ! " 

'] " That you couldn't ; leastways, not with- 
out bringing the whole place about your 
ears." 

; " Well, I shall write to the Times all the 
same. I'm a connoisseur in all this sort of 
thing, and I won't have unnecessary risks 
run with the nation's property. You said 
there was an attendant just outside, but he 
sounds to me as though he were at the 
other end of the corridor. I shall write 
to-day I" 

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For an instant we all three listened ; and 
Raffles was right. Then I saw two things 
in one glance. Raffles had stepped a few 
inches backward, and stood poised upon the 
ball of each foot, his arms half raised, a 
light in his eyes. And another kind of light 
was breaking over the crass features of our 
friend the constable. 

" Then shall I tell you what 77/ do? " he 
cried, with a sudden clutch at the whistle- 
chain on his chest. The whistle flew out, 
but it never reached his lips. There were 
a couple of sharp smacks, like double bar- 
rels discharged all but simultaneously, and 
the man reeled against me so that I could 
not help catching him as he fell. 

" Well done. Bunny ! I've knocked him 
out — I've knocked him out! Run you to 
the door and see if the attendants have 
heard anything, and take them on if they 
have." 

Mechanically I did as I was told. There 
was no time for thought, still less for remon- 
strance or reproach, though my surprise 
must have been even more complete than 
that of the constable before Raffles knocked 
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the sense out of him. Even in jny utter 
bewilderment, however, the instinctive cau- 
tion of the real criminal did not desert me. 
I ran to the door, but I sauntered through 
it, to plant myself before a Pompeiian fresco 
in the corridor; and there were the two 
attendants still gossiping outside the fur- 
ther door ; nor did they hear the dull cradi 
which I heard even as I watched them out 
of the comer of each eye. 

It was hot weather, as I have said, but 
the perspiration on my body seemed already 
to have turned into a skin of ice. Then I 
caught the faint reflection of my own face 
in the casing of the fresco, and it fright- 
ened me into some semblance of myself as 
Raffles joined me with his hands in his 
pockets. But my fear and indignation were 
redoubled at the sight of him, when a single 
glance convinced me that his pockets were 
as empty as his hands, and his mad outrage 
the most wanton and reckless of his whole 
career. 

"Ah, very interesting, very interesting, 
but nothing to what they have in the mu- 
seum at Naples or in Pompeii itself. You 
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must go there some day, Bunny. I've a 
good mind to take you myself. Meanwhile 
— slow march! The beggar hasn't moved 
an eyelid. We may swing for him if you 
show indecent haste 1 " 

"We!" I whispered. "We!" 

And my knees knocked together as we 
came up to the chatting attendants. But 
Raffles must needs interrupt them to ask 
the way to the Prehistoric Saloon. 

" At the top of the stairs." 

"Thank you. Then we'll work round 
that way to the Egyptian part." 

And we left them resuming their provi- 
dential chat. 

" I believe you're mad," I said bitterly 
as we went. 

" I believe I was'' admitted Raffles ; 
" but I'm not now, and I'll see you through. 
A hundred and thirty-nine yards, wasn't it? 
Then it can't be more than a hundred and 
twenty now — ^not as much. Steady, Bunny, 
for God's sake. It's slow march — for our 
lives." 

There was this much management. The 
rest was our colossal luck. A hansom was 
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being paid off at the foot of the steps out- 
side, and in we jumped, Raffles shouting 
"Charing Cross!" for all Bloomsbury to 
hear. 

We had turned into Bloomsbury Street 
without exchanging a syllable when he 
struck the trap-door with his fist. 

"Where the devil are you driving us?" 

" Charing Cross, sir." 

" I said King's Cross I Round you spin, 
and drive like blazes, or we miss our train ! 
There's one to York at 10.35," added Raf- 
fles as the trap-door slammed ; " we'll book 
there. Bunny, and then we'll slope through 
the subway to the Metropolitan, and so to 
ground via Baker Street and Earl's Court." 

And actually in half an hour he was 
seated once more in the hired carrying chair, 
while the porter and I staggered upstairs 
with my decrepit charge, for whose shat- 
tered strength even one hour in Kew Gar- 
dens had proved too much ! Then, and not 
until then, when we had got rid of the 
porter and were alone at last, did I tell 
Raffles, in the most nervous English at 
my command, frankly and exactly what I 
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thought of him and of his latest deed. Once 
started, moreover, I spoke as I have seldom 
spoken to living man; and Raffles, of all 
men, stood my abuse without a murmur; 
or rather he sat it out, too astounded even 
to take ofif his hat, though I thought his 
eyebrows would have lifted it from his head. 

" But it always was your infernal way," 
I was savagely concluding. "You make 
one plan, and you tell me another " 

" Not to-day. Bunny, I swear ! " 

"You mean to tell me you really did 
start with the bare idea of finding a place 
to hide in for a night?" 

"Of course I did." 

" It was to be the mere reconnoitre you 
pretended?" 

" There was no pretence about it, Bunny." 

"Then why on earth go and do what 
you did?" 

" The reason would be obvious to anyone 
but you," said Raffles, still with no unkindly 
scorn. " It was the temptation of a min- 
ute — ^the final impulse of the fraction of a 
second, when Roberto saw that I was 
tempted, and let me see that he saw it. It's 
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Raffles 

^not a thing I care to do, and I shan't be 
happy till the papers tell me the poor devil 
is alive. But a knock-out shot was the only 
chance for us then." 

" Why? You don't get run in for being 
tempted, nor yet for showing that you are I " 

" But I should have deserved running in 
if I hadn't yielded to such a temptation as 
that. Bunny. It was a chance in a hundred 
thousand! We might go there every day 
of our lives, and never again be the only 
outsiders in the room, with the billiard- 
marking Johnnie practically out of earshot 
at one and the same time. It was a gift 
from the gods ; not to have taken it would 
have been flying in the face of Providence." 

" But you didn't take it," said I. " You 
went and left it behind." 

I wish I had had a Kodak for the little 
smile with which Raffles shook his head, 
for it was one that he kept for those great 
moments of which our vocation is not de- 
void. All this time he had been wearing 
his hat, tilted a little over eyebrows no 
longer raised. And now at last I knew 
where the gold cup was. 
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It stood for days upon his chimney-piece, 
this costly trophy whose ancient history and 
final fate filled newspaper columns even in 
these days of Jubilee, and for which the 
flower of Scotland Yard was said to be 
seeking high and low. Our constable, we 
learnt, had been stunned only, and, from 
the moment that I brought him an evening 
paper with the news, Raffles's spirits rose 
to a height inconsistent with his equable 
temperament, and as unusual in him as the 
sudden impulse upon which he had acted 
with such effect. The cup itself appealed 
to me no more than it had done before. 
Exquisite it might be, handsome it was, but 
so light in the hand that the mere gold of 
it would scarcely have poured three figures 
out of melting-pot. And what said Raffles 
but that he would never melt it at all ! 

" Taking it was an offence against the 
laws of the land, Bunny. That is nothing. 
But destroying it would be a crime against 
God and Art, and may I be spitted on the 
vane of St. Mary Abbot's if I commit it I " 

Talk such as this was unanswerable ; in- 
deed, the whole affair had passed the pale 
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Raffles 

of useful comment ; and the one course left 
to a practical person was to shrug his shoul- 
ders and enjoy the joke. This was not a 
little enhanced by the newspaper reports, 
which described Raffles as a handsome 
youth, and his unwilling accomplice as an 
older man of blackguardly appearance and 
low type. 

" Hits us both off rather neatly," Bunny," 
said he. " But what they none of them do 
justice to is my dear cup. Look at it ; only 
look at it, man ! Was ever anything so rich 
and yet so chaste? St. Agnes must have 
had a pretty bad time, but it would be al- 
most worth it to go down to posterity in 
such enamel upon such gold. And then the 
history of the thing. Do you realise that 
it's five hundred years old and has belonged 
to Henry the Eighth and to Elizabeth among 
others? Bunny, when you have me cre- 
mated, you can put my ashes in yonder cup, 
and lay us in the deep-delved earth to- 
gether!" 

"And meanwhile?" 

" It is the joy of my heart, the light of 
my life, the delight of mine eye." 
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"And suppose other eyes catch sight of 
it?" 

" They never must ; they never shall." 

Raffles would have been too absurd had 
he not been thoroughly alive to his own ab- 
surdity; there was nevertheless an under- 
lying sincerity in his appreciation , of any 
and every form of beauty, which all his 
nonsense could not conceal. And his in- 
fatuation for the cup was, as he declared, 
a very pure passion, since the circumstances 
debarred him from the chief joy of the 
average collector, that of showing his treas- 
ure to his friends. At last, however, and at 
the height of his craze. Raffles and reason 
seemed to come together again as suddenly 
as they had parted company in the Room 
of Gold. 

" Bunny," he cried, fflnging his news- 
paper across the room, " I've got an idea 
after your own heart. I know where I can 
place it after all ! " 

" Do you mean the cup ? " 
, "I do." 

" Then I congratulate you/' 

"Thanks." 

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Raffles 

" Upon the recovery of your senses." 

"Thanks galore. But you've been con- 
fotmdedly unsympathetic about this thing, 
Bunny, and I don't think I shall tell you 
xny scheme till I've carried it out." 

" Quite time enough," said L 

" It will mean your letting me loose for 
an hour or two under cloud of this very 
night. To-morrow's Sunday, the Jubilee's 
on Tuesday, and old Theobald's coming 
back for it." 

"It doesn't much matter whether he's 
back or not if you go late enough." 

"I mustn't be late. They don't keep 
open. No, it's no use your asking any 
questions. Go out and buy me a big box 
of Huntley & Palmer's biscuits; any sort 
you like, only they must be theirs, and ab- 
solutely the biggest box they sell." 

" My dear man ! " 

" No questions, Bunny ; you do your part 
and I'll do mine." 

Subtlety and success were in his face. It 

was enough for me, and I had done his 

extraordinary bidding within a quarter of 

an hour. In another minute Raffles had 

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opened the box and tumbled all the bisctiits 
into the nearest chair. 

" Now newspapers ! " 

I fetched a pile. He bid the cup of gold 
a ridiculous farewell, wrapped it up in news- 
paper after newspaper, and finally packed 
it in the empty biscuit-box. 

" Now some brown paper. I don't want 
to be taken for the grocer's young man." 

A neat enough parcel it made, when the 
string had been tied and the ends cut close ; 
what was more difficult was to wrap up 
Raffles himself in such a way that even the 
porter should not recognise him if they 
came face to face at the comer. And the 
sun was still up. But Raffles would go, and 
when he did I should not have known him 
^myself. 

He may have been an hour away. It was 
barely dusk when he returned,, and my first 
question referred to our dangerous ally, the 
porter. Raffles had passed him unsuspected 
in going, but had managed to avoid him 
altogether on the return journey, which he 
had completed by way of the other entrance 
and the roof. I breathed again, 
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Raffles 

" And what have you done with the cup? " 

"Placed it!" 

"How much for? How much for?" 

" Let me think. I had a couple of cabs, 
and the postage was a tamier, with another 
twopence for registration. Yes, it cost me 
exactly five-and-eight." 

" It cost youf But what did you get for 
it, Raffles?" 

" Nothing, my boy." 

"Nothing!" 

" Not a crimson cent." 

" I am not surprised. I never thought it 
had a market value. I told you so in the 
beginning," I said, irritably. " But what 
on earth have you done with the thing? *' 

" Sent it to the Queen." 

"You haven't!" 

Rogue is a word with various meanings, 
and Raffles had been one sort of rogue ever 
since I had known him ; but now, for once, 
he was the innocent variety, a great gray- 
haired child, running over with merriment 
and mischief. 

" Well, I've sent it to Sir Arthur Bigge, 
to present to her Majesty, with the loyal 
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respects of the thief, if that will do for 
you," said Raffles. " I thought they might 
take too much stock of me at the G.P.O. 
if I addressed it to the Sovereign herself. 
Yes, I drove over to St. Martin's-le-Grand 
with it, and I registered the box into the 
bargain. Do a thing properly if you do 
it at all." 

" But why on earth," I groaned, " do such 
a thing at all?" 

" My dear Bunny, we have been reigned 
over for sixty years by infinitely the finest 
monarch the world has ever seen. The 
world is taking the present opportunity of 
signifying the fact for all it is worth. 
Every nation is laying of its best at her 
royal feet ; every class in the community is 
doing its little level— except ours. All I 
have done is to remove one reproach from 
our fraternity." 

At this I came round, was infected with 
his spirit, called him the sportsman he al- 
ways was and would be, and shook his dare- 
devil hand in mine ; but, at the same time, 
I still had my qualms. 

" Supposing they trace it to us? " said I. 
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Raffles 

"There's not much to catch hold of in 
a biscuit-box by Huntley & Palmer/' re- 
plied Raffles; "that was why I sent you 
for one. And I didn't write a word upon 
a sheet of paper which could possibly be 
traced. I simply printed two or three on 
a virginal post-card — another half-penny to 
the bad — which might have been bought at 
any post-office in the kingdom. No, old 
chap, the G.P.O. was the one real danger; 
there was one detective I spotted for my- 
self ; and the sight of him has left me with 
a thirst. Whisky and SuUivans for two, 
Bunny, if you please." 

Raffles was soon clinking his glass against 
mine. 

"The Queen," said he. "God bless 
her!" 



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THE FATE OF FAUSTINA 

" Mar— ga— ri, 

e perzo a Salvatore ! 
Mar— ga— ri, 

Ma I'ommo d cacciatore ! 
Mar — ga— ri, 

Nun ce aje corpa tu ! 
Chello ch' h fatto,^ fatto, un ne parlammo cchieii ! " 

A PIANO-ORGAN was pouring the 
metallic music through our open win- 
dows, while a voice of brass brayed the 
words, which I have since obtained, and 
print above for identification by such as 
know their Italy better than I. They will 
not thank me for reminding them of a tune 
so lately epidemic in that land of aloes and 
blue skies ; but at least it is unlikely to run 
in their heads as the ribald accompaniment 
to a tragedy ; and it does in mine. 

It was in the early heat of August, and 
the hour that of the lawful and necessary 
siesta for such as turn night into day. I 

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Raffles 

was therefore shutting my window in a 
rage, and wondering whether I should not 
do the same for Raffles, when he appeared 
in the silk pajamas to which the chronic 
solicitude of Dn Theobald confined him 
from morning to night. 

"Don't do that, Bunny," said he. "I 
rather like that thing, and want to listen. 
What sort of fellows are they to look at, 
by the way?" • 

I put my head out to see, it being a 
primary rule of our quaint establishment 
that Raffles must never show himself at any 
of the windows. I remember now how hot 
the sill was to my elbows, as I leant upon 
it and looked down, in order to satisfy a 
curiosity in which I could see no point. 

" Dirty-looking beggars," said I over my 
shoulder : " dark as dark ; blue chins, ole- 
aginous curls, and ear-rings; ragged as 
they make them, but nothing picturesque in 
their rags." 

" Neapolitans all over," murmured Raf- 
fles behind me ; " and that's a characteristic 
touch, the one fellow singing while the other 
grinds ; they always have that out there." 
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"He's rather a fine chap, the singer," 
said I, as the song ended. " My hat, what 
teeth ! He's looking up here, and grinning 
all round his head ; shall I chuck them any- 
thing?" 

"Well, I have no reason to love the 
Neapolitans ; but it takes me back — it takes 
me back ! Yes, here you are, one each." 

It was a couple of half-crowns that Raf- 
fles put into my hand, but I had thrown 
them into the street for pennies before I saw 
what they were. Thereupon I left the Ital- 
ians bowing to the mud, as well they might, 
and I turned to protest against such wan- 
ton waste. But Raffles was walking up and 
down, his head bent, his eyes troubled ; and 
his one excuse disarmed remonstrance. 

" They took me back," he repeated. " My 
God, how they took me back ! " 

Suddenly he stopped in his stride. 

" You don't understand. Bunny, old chap ; 
but if you like you shall. I always meant 
to tell you some day, but never felt worked 
up to it before, and it's not the kind of thing 
one talks about for talking's sake. It isn't 
a nursery story. Bunny, and there isn't a 
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Raffles 

laugh in it from start to finish ; on the con- 
trary, you have often asked me what turned 
my hair grey, and now you are going to 
hear." 

This was promising, but Raffles's manner 
was something more. It was unique in my 
memory of the man. His fine face softened 
and set hard by turns. I never knew it so 
hard. I never knew it so soft. And the 
same might be said of his voice, now ten- 
der as any woman's, now flying to the 
other extreme of equally unwonted ferocity. 
But this was toward the end of his tale; 
the beginning he treated characteristically 
enough, though I could have wished for a 
less cavalier account of the island of Elba, 
where, upon his own showing, he had met 
with much himianity. 

"Deadly, my dear Bunny, is not the 
word for that glorified snag, or for the 
mollusks its inhabitants. But they started 
by wounding my vanity, so perhaps I am 
prejudiced after all. I sprung myself upon 
them as a ship-wrecked sailor — 2i sole sur- 
vivor — stripped in the sea and landed with- 
out a stitch — ^yet they took no more interest 
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The Fate of Faustina 

in me than you do in Italian organ-grind- 
ers. They were decent enough. I didn't 
have to pick and steal for a square meal and 
a pair of trousers ; it would have been more 
exciting if I had. But what a place ! Na- 
poleon couldn't stand it, you remember, but 
he held on longer than I did. I put in a 
few weeks in their infernal mines, simply 
to pick up a smattering of Italian ; then got 
across to the mainland in a little wooden 
timber-tramp ; and ungratefully glad I was 
to leave Elba blazing in just such another 
sunset as the one you won't forget. 

" The tramp was bound for Naples, but 
first it touched at Baiae, where I carefully 
deserted in the night. There are too many 
English in Naples itself, though I thought 
it would make a first happy hunting-ground 
when I knew the language better and had 
altered myself a bit more. Meanwhile I got 
a billet of several sorts on one of the loveli- 
est spots that ever I struck on all my trav- 
els. The place was a vineyard, but it over- 
hung the sea, and I got taken on as tame 
sailorman and emergency bottle-washer. 
The wages were the noble figure of a lira 
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and a half, which is just over a bob, a day, 
but there were lashings of sound wine for 
one and all, and better wine to bathe in. 
And for eight whole months, my boy, I was 
an absolutely honest man. The luxury of 
it. Bunny ! I out-heroded Herod, wouldn't 
touch a grape, and went in the most delicious 
danger of being knifed for my principles by 
the thieving crew I had joined. 

" It was the kind of place where every 
prospect pleases — and all the rest of it — 
especially all the rest. But may I see it in 
my dreams till I die — ^as it was in the be- 
ginning — ^before anything began to happen. 
It was a wedge of rock sticking out into the 
bay, thatched with vines, and with the rum- 
miest old house on the very edge of all, a 
devil of a height above the sea : you might 
have sat at the windows and dropped your 
Sullivan-ends plumb into blue water a hun- 
dred and fifty feet below. 

"From the garden behind the house — 
such a garden, Bunny— oleanders and mi- 
mosa, myrtles, rosemary, and red tangles 
of fiery untamed flowers — in a comer of this 
garden was the top of a subterranean stair 
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down to the sea ; at least there were nearly 
two hundred steps tunnelled through the 
solid rock; then an iron gate, and another 
eighty steps in the open air; and last of 
all a cave fit for pirates a-penny-plain-and- 
twopence-coloured. This cave gave upon 
the sweetest little thing in coves, all deep 
blue water and honest rocks; and here I 
looked after the vineyard shipping, a pot- 
bellied tub with a brown sail, and a sort of 
dingy. The tub took the wine to Naples, 
and the dingy was the tub's tender. 

" The house above was said to be on the 
identical site of a suburban retreat of the 
admirable Tiberius; there was the old sin- 
ner's private theatre with the tiers cut clean 
to this day, the 'well where he used to fatten 
his lampreys on his slaves, and a ruined 
temple of those ripping old Roman bricks, 
shallow as dominos and ruddier than the 
cherry. I never was much of an antiquary, 
but I could have become one there if I'd 
had nothing else to do; but I had lots. 
When I wasn't busy with the boats I had 
to trim the vines, or gather the grapes, or 
even help make the wine itself in a cool, 
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(lark, musty vault underneath the temple, 
that I can see and smell as I jaw. And 
can't I hear it and feel it too! Squish, 
squash, bubble; squash, squish, guggle; 
and your feet as though you had been 
wading through slaughter to a throne. 
Yes, Bunny, you mightn't think it, but this 
good right foot, that never was on the 
wrong side of the crease when the ball left 
my hand, has also been known to 

' crush the lees of pleasure 
From sanguine grapes of pain.'" 

He made a sudden pause, as though he 
had stumbled on the truth in jest. His face 
filled with lines. We were sitting in the 
room that had been bare when first I saw 
it ; there were basket-chairs and a table in 
it now, all meant ostensibly for me; and 
hence Raffles would slip to his bed, with 
schoolboy relish, at every tinkle of the bell. 
This afternoon we felt fairly safe, for Theo- 
bald had called in the morning, and Mrs. 
Theobald still took up much of his time. 
Through the open window we could hear 
the piano-organ and " Mar— ga — ri " a few 
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hundred yards further on. I fancied Raf- 
fles was listening to it while he paused. He 
shook his head abstractedly when I handed 
him the cigarettes ; and his tone hereafter 
was never just what it had been. 

" I don't know, Bunny, whether youVe a 
believer in transmigration of souls. I have 
often thought it easier to believe than lots 
of other things, and I have been pretty near 
believing in it myself since I had my being 
on that villa of Tiberius. The brute who 
had it in my day, if he isn't still running it 
with a whole skin, was or is as cold-blooded 
a blackguard as the worst of the emperors, 
but I have often thought he had a lot in 
common with Tiberius. He had the great 
high sensual Roman nose, eyes that were 
sinks of iniquity in themselves, and that 
swelled with fatness, like the rest of him, so 
that he wheezed if he walked a yard ; other- 
wise rather a fine beast to look at, with a 
huge grey moustache, like a flying gull, and 
•the most courteous manners even to his 
men ; but one of the worst, Bunny, one of 
the worst that ever was. It was said that 
the vineyard was only his hobby ; if so, he 
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did his best to make his hobby pay. He 
used to come out from Naples for the week- 
ends — ^in the tub when it wasn't too rough 
for his nerves — ^and he didn't always come 
alone. His very name sounded unhealthy 
— Corbucci. I suppose I ought to add that 
he was a Count, though Counts are two-a- 
penny in Naples, and in season all the year 
round. 

"He had a little English, and liked to 
air it upon me, much to my disgust; if I 
could not hope to conceal my nationality as 
yet, I at least did not want to have it adver- 
tised; and the swine had English friends. 
When he heard that I was bathing in No- 
vember, when the bay is still as warm as 
new milk, he would shake his wicked old 
head and say, 'You are very audashuss — 
you are very audashuss!' and put on no 
end of side before his Italians. By God, 
he had pitched upon the right word un- 
awares, and I let him know it in the end I 

" But that bathing, Bunny ; it was abso- 
lutely the best I ever had anywhere. I said 
just now the water was like wine; in my 
own mind I used to call it blue champagne, 
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and was rather annoyed that I had no one 
to admire the phrase. Otherwise I assure 
you that I missed my own particular kind 
very little indeed, though I often wished 
that you were there, old chap ; particularly 
when I went for my lonesome swim; first 
thing in the morning, when the Bay was 
all rose-leaves, and last thing at night, when 
your body caught phosphorescent fire ! Ah, 
yes, it was a good enough life for a change ; 
a perfect paradise to lie low in; another 
Eden until . . . 

"My poor Eve!" 

And he fetched a sigh that took away his 
words ; then his jaws snapped together, and 
his eyes spoke terribly while he conquered 
his emotion. I pen the last word advisedly. 
I fancy it is one which I have never used 
before in writing of A. J. RafHes, for I 
cannot at the moment recall any other oc- 
casion upon which its use would have been 
justified. On resuming, however, he was 
not only calm, but cold ; and this flying for 
safety to the other extreme is the single 
instance of self-distrust which the present 
Achates can record to the credit of his im- 
pious JEneas. 

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" I caU^d the girl Eve," said he. " Her 
real name was Faustina, and she was one 
of a vast family who hung out in a hovel 
on the inland border of the vineyard. And 
Aphrodite rising from the sea was less won- 
derful and not more beautiful than Aphro- 
dite emerging from that hole ! 

"It was the most exquisite face I ever 
saw or shall see in this life. Absolutely 
perfect features ; a skin that reminded you 
of old gold, so delicate was its bronze; 
magnificent hair, not black but nearly ; and 
such eyes and teeth as would have made 
the fortune of a face without another point. 
I tell you, Bunny, London would go mad 
about a girl like that. But I don't believe 
there's such another in the world. And 
there she was wasting her sweetness upon 
that lovely but desolate little corner of it! 
Well, she did not waste it upon me. I 
would have married her, and lived happily 
ever after in such a hovel as her people's 
— with her. Only to look at her— only to 
look at her for the rest of my days — I could 
have lain low and remained dead even to 
you ! And that's all I'm going to tell you 
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about that, Bunny ; cursed be he who tells 
morel Yet don't you run away with the 
idea that this poor Faustina was the only 
woman I ever cared about. I don't believe 
in all that 'only' rot; nevertheless I tell 
you that she was the one being who ever 
entirely satisfied my sense of beauty ; and I 
honestly believe I could have chucked the 
world and been true to Faustina for that 
alone. 

" We met sometimes in the little temple 
I told you about, sometimes among the 
vines; now by honest accident, now by 
flagrant design; and found a ready-made 
rendezvous, romantic as one could wish, in 
the cave down all those subterranean steps. 
Then the sea would call us — ^my blue cham- 
pagne — my sparkling cobalt — ^and there was 
the dingy ready to our hand. Oh, those 
nights! I never knew which I liked best, 
the moonlit ones when you sculled through 
silver and could see for miles, or the dark 
nights when the fishermen's torches stood 
for the sea, and a red zig-zag in the sky for 
old Vesuvius. We were happy. I don't 
mind owning it. We seemed not to have a 
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care between us. My mates took no inter- 
est in my affairs, and Faustina's family did 
not appear to bother about her. The Count 
was in Naples five nights of the seven ; the 
other two we sighed apart. 

"At first it was the oldest story in lit- 
erature — ^Eden plus Eve. The place had 
been a heaven on earth before, but now 
it was heaven itself. So for a little; then 
one night, a Monday night, Faustina burst 
out crying in the boat; and sobbed her 
story as we drifted without mishap by the 
mercy of the Lord. And that was almost 
as old a story as the other. 

" She was engaged — ^what 1 Had I never 
heard of it? Did I mean to upset the boat? 
What was her engagement beside our love? 
* Niente, niente,' crooned Faustina, sighing 
yet smiling through her tears. No, but 
what did matter was that the man had 
threatened tp stab her to the heart — ^and 
would do it as soon as look at her — ^that I 
knew. 

" I knew it merely from my knowledge 
t>i the Neapolitans, for I had no idea who 
the man might be. I knew it, and yet I 
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took this detail better than the fact of the 
engagement, though now I began to laugh 
at both. As if I was going to let her marry 
anybody else! As if a hair of her lovely 
head should be touched while I lived to pro- 
tect her! I had a great mind to row away 
to blazes with her that very night, and never 
go near the vineyard again, or let her either. 
But we had not a lira between us at the 
time, and only the rags in which we sat 
barefoot in the boat. Besides, I had to 
know the name of the animal who had 
threatened a woman, and such a woman as 
this. 

" For a long time she refused to tell me, 
with splendid obduracy; but I was as de- 
termined as she; so at last she made con- 
ditions. I was not to go and get put in 
prison for sticking a knife into him — ^he 
wasn't worth it — and I did promise not to 
stab him in the back. Faustina seemed 
quite satisfied, though a little puzzled by 
my manner, having herself the racial tol- 
erance for cold steel ; and next moment she 
had taken away my breath. ' It is Stefano,' 
she whispered, and hung her head. 
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" And well she might, poor thing ! Ste- 
fano, of all creatures on God's earth — for 
her! 

" Bunny, he was a miserable little under- 
sized wretch — ill-f avoured — servile — surly 
— and second only to his master in bestial 
cunning and h3rpocrisy. His face was 
enough for' me ; that was what I read in 
it, and I don't often make mistakes. He 
was Corbucci's own confidential body-ser- 
vant, and that alone was enough to damn 
him in decent eyes : always came out first 
on the Saturday with the spese, to have all 
ready for his master and current mistress, 
and stayed behind on the Monday to clear 
and lock up. Stefano! That worm I I 
could well understand his threatening a 
woman with a knife; what beat me was 
how any woman could ever have listened to 
him ; above all, that Faustina should be the 
one I It passed my comprehension. Btit I 
questioned her as gently as I could; and 
her explanation was largely the threadbare 
one you would expect. Her parents were 
so poor. They were so many in family. 
Some of them begged — ^would I promise 
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never to tell ? Then some of them stole — 
sometimes — and all knew the pains of actual 
want. She looked after the cows, but there 
were only two of them, and brought the 
milk to the vineyard and elsewhere; but 
that was not employment for more than 
one ; and there were countless sisters wait- 
ing to take her place. Then he was so rich, 
Stefano. 

"'Rich?' I echoed. 'Stefano?' 

" ' Si, Arturo mio.' 

"Yes, I played the game on that vine- 
yard. Bunny, even to going by my own first 
name. 

" * And how comes he to be rich ? ' I 
asked, suspiciously. 

" She did not know ; but hfe had given 
her such beautiful jewels; the family had 
lived on them for months, she pretending 
an avocat had taken charge of them for her 
against her marriage. But I cared nothing 
about all that. 

" ' Jewels ! Stefano 1 ' I could only mut- 
ter. 

" ' Perhaps the Count has paid for some 
of them. He is very kind.' 
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"'To you, is he?' 

" ' Oh, yes, very kind.' 

" * And you would live in his house after- 
wards?' 

" * Not now, mia cara — ^not now ! ' 

" * No, by God you don't ! ' said I in Eng- 
lish. * But you would have done so, eh? ' 

" ' Of course. That was arranged. The 
Count is really very kind.' 

" * Do you see anything of him when he 
comes here?' 

" Yes, he had sometimes brought her lit- 
tle presents, sweetmeats, ribbons, and the 
like; but the offering had always been 
made through this toad of a Stefano. 
Knowing the men, I now knew all. But 
Faustina, she had the pure and simple 
heart, and the white soul, by the God who 
made it, and for all her kindness to a tat- 
tered scapegrace who made love to her in 
broken Italian between the ripples and the 
stars. She was not to know what I was, 
remember; and besides Corbucci and his 
henchman I was the Archangel Gabriel come 
down to earth. 

"Well, as I lay awake that night, two 
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more lines of Swinburne came into my head^ 
and came to stay : 

" God said ' Let him who wins her take 
And keep Faustine.' 

" On that couplet I slept at last, and it 
was my text and watchword when I awoke 
in the morning. I forget how well you 
know your Swinburne, Bunny; but don't 
you run away with the idea that there was 
anything else in common between his Faus- 
tine and mine. For the last time let me 
tell you that poor Faustina was the whitest 
and the best I ever knew. 

" Well, I was strung up for trouble when 
the next Saturday came, and I'll tell you 
what I had done. I had broken the pledge 
and burgled Corbucci's villa in my best 
manner during his absence in Naples. Not 
that it gave me the slightest trouble; but 
no human being could have told that I had 
been in, when I came out. And I had stolen 
nothing, mark you, but only borrowed a re- 
volver from a drawer in the X^ount's desk, 
with one or two trifling accessories ; for by 
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this time I had the measure of these damned 
Neapolitans. They are spry enough with a 
knife, but you show them the business end 
of a shooting-iron, and they'll streak like 
rabbits for the nearest hole. But the re- 
volver wasn't for my own use. It was for 
Faustina, and I taught her how to use it 
in the cave down there by the sea, shooting 
at candles stuck upon the rock. The noise 
in the cave was something frightful, but 
high up above it couldn't be heard at all, 
as we proved to each other's satisfaction 
pretty early in the proceedings. So now 
Faustina was armed with munitions of self- 
defence; and I knew enough of her char- 
acter to entertain no doubt as to their spir- 
ited use upon occasion. Between the two 
of us, in fact, our friend Stefano seemed 
tolerably certain of a warm week-end. 

" But the Saturday brought word that the 
Count was not coming this week, being in 
Rome on business, and unable to return in 
time; so for a whole Sunday we were 
promised peace; and made bold plans ac- 
cordingly. There was no further merit in 
hushing this thing up. ' Let him who wins 
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her take and keep Faustine.' Yes, but let 
him win her openly, or lose her and be 
damned to him! So on the Sunday I was 
going to haye it out with her people — with 
the Count and Stefano as soon as they 
showed their noses. I had no inducement, 
remember, ever to return to surreptitious 
life within a cab-fare of Wormwood 
Scrubbs. Faustina and the Bay of Naples 
were quite good enough for me. And the 
prehistoric man in me rather exulted in the 
idea of fighting for my desire. 

" On the Saturday, however, we were to 
meet for the last time as heretofore — ^just 
once more in secret— down there in the cave 
— ^as soon as might be after dark. Neither 
of us minded if we were kept for hours; 
each knew that in the end the other would 
come; and there was a charm of its own 
even in waiting with such knowledge. But 
that night I did lose patience: not in the 
cave but up above, where first on one pre- 
text and then on another the direttore kept 
me going until I smelt a rat. He was not 
given to exacting overtime, this direttore, 
.whose only fault was his servile subjection 
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to our common boss. It seemed pretty ob- 
vious, therefore, that he was acting upon 
some secret instructions from Corbucci him- 
self, and, the moment I suspected this, I 
asked him to his face if it was not the case. 
And it was; he admitted it with many 
shrugs, being a conveniently weak person, 
whom one felt ahnost ashamed of bullying 
as the occasion demanded. 

" The fact was, however, that the Count 
had sent for him on finding he had to go to 
Rome, and had said he was very sorry to 
go just then, as among other things he in- 
tended to speak to me about Faustina. Ste- 
fano had told him all about his row with 
.her, and moreover that it was on my ac- 
count, which Faustina had never told me, 
though I had guessed as much for myself. 
, Well, the Count was going to take his 
jackal's part for all he was worth, which 
was just exactly what I expected him to 
do. He intended going for me on his re- 
turn, but meanwhile I was not to make hay 
in his absence, and so this tool of a direttore 
had orders to keep me at it night and day, 
I undertook not to give the poor beast away, 
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but at the same time told him I had not 
the faintest intention of doing another 
stroke of work that night. 

" It was very dark, and I remember 
knocking my head against the oranges as 
I ran up the long, shallow steps which 
ended the journey between the direttore's 
lodge and the villa itself. But at the back 
of the villa was the garden I spoke about, 
and also a bare chunk of the cliff where it 
was bored by that subterranean stair. So 
I saw the stars close overhead, and the 
fishermen's torches far below, the coastwise 
lights and the crimson hieroglyph that spelt 
Vesuvius, before I plunged into the dark- 
ness of the shaft. And that was the last 
time I appreciated the unique and peaceful 
charm of this outlandish spot. 

" The stair was in two long flights, with 
an air-hole or two at the top of the upper 
one, but not another pin-prick till you came 
to the iron gate at the bottom of the lower. 
As you may read of an infinitely lighter 
place, in a finer work of fiction than you 
are ever likely to write. Bunny, it was 
* gloomy at noon, dark as midnight at dusk, 
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and black as tfie ninth plague of Egypt at 
midnight.' I won't swear to my quotation, 
but I will to those stairs. They were as 
black that night as the inside of the safest 
safe in the strongest strong-room in the 
Chancery Lane Deposit. Yet I had not got 
far down them with my bare feet before I 
heard somebody else coming up in boots. 
You may imagine what a turn that gave 
me! It could not be Faustina, who went 
barefoot three seasons of the four, and yet 
there was Faustina waiting for me down 
below. What a fright she must have had 1 
And all at once my own blood ran cold : 
for the man sang like a kettle as he plodded 
up and up. It was, it must be, the short- 
winded Count himself, whom we all sup- 
posed to be in Rome ! 

" Higher he came and nearer, nearer, 
slowly yet hurriedly, now stopping to cough 
and gasp, now taking a few steps by ele- 
phantine assault. I should have enjoyed 
the situation if it had not been for poor 
Faustina in the cave ; as it was I was filled 
with nameless fears. But I could not resist 
giving that grampus Corbucci one bad mo- 
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ment on account. A crazy hand-rail ran up 
one wall, so I carefully flattened myself 
against the other, and he passed within 
six inches of me, puffing and wheezing like 
a brass band. I let him go a few steps 
higher, and then I let him have it with both 
lungs. 

" ' Buona sera, eccellenza signori I ' I 
roared after him. And a scream came down 
in answer — such a scream! A dozen dif- 
ferent terrors were in it ; and the wheezing 
had stopped, with the old scoundrel's heart. 

" ' Chi sta la? ' he squeaked at last, gib- 
bering and whimpering like a whipped mon- 
key, so that I could not bear to miss his 
face, and got a match all ready to strike. 

" ' Arturo, signori.' 

" He didn't repeat my name, nor did he 
damn me in heaps. He did nothing but 
wheeze for a good minute, and when he 
spoke it was with insinuating civility, in his 
best English. 

" * Come nearer, Arturo. You are in the 
lower regions down there, I want to speak 
with you.' 

" ' No, thanks. I'm in a hurry,' I said, 
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and dropped that match back into my pocket. 
He might be armed, and I was not. 

" ' So you are in a 'urry ! ' and he wheezed 
amusement. * And you thought I was still 
in Rome, no doubt; and so I was until 
this afternoon, when I caught train at the 
eleventh moment, and then another train 
from Naples to Pozzuoli. I have been 
rowed here now by a fisherman of Pozzuoli. 
I had not time to stop anywhere in Naples, 
but only to drive from station to station. 
So I am without Stefano, Arturo, I am 
without Stefano.' 

"His sly voice sounded preternaturally 
sly in the absolute darkness, but even 
through that impenetrable veil I knew it for 
a sham. I had laid hold of the hand-rail. 
It shook violently in my hand ; he also was 
holding it where he stood. And these sup- 
pressed tremors, or rather their detection 
in this way, struck a strange chill to my 
heart, just as I was beginning to pluck 
it up. 

" ' It is lucky for Stefano,' said I, grim 
as death. 

" * Ah, but you must not be too 'ard on 
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'im/ remonstrated the Count. 'You have 
stole his girl, he speak with me about it, 
and I wish to speak with you. It is very 
audashuss, Arturo, very audashuss! Per- 
haps you are even going to meet her now, 
eh?' 

" I told him straight that I was. 

" * Then there is no 'urry, for she is not 
there.' 

"'You didn't see her in the cave?' I 
cried, too delighted at the thought to keep 
it to myself. 

" ' I had no such fortune,' the old devil 
said. 

" ' She is there, all the same.' 

" * I only wish I 'ad known.' 

" * And I've kept her long enough ! ' 

" In fact I threw this over my shoulder 
as I turned and went running down. 

" ' I 'ope you will find her ! ' his malicious 
voice came croaking after me. ' I 'ope you 
will — I 'ope so.' 

" And find her I did." 

Raffles had been on his feet some time, 
unable to sit still or to stand, moving ex- 
citedly about the room. But now he stood 
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still enough, his elbows on the cast-iron 
mantelpiece, his head between his hands. 

"Dead?" I whispered. 

And he nodded to the wall. 

"There was not a sound in the cave. 
There was no answer to my voice. Then 
I went in, and my foot touched hers, and 
it was colder than the rock . . . Bunny, 
they had stabbed her to the heart. She 
had fought them, and they had stabbed her 
to the heart 1" 

"You say 'they,'" I said gently, as he 
stood in heavy silence, his back still turned. 
" I thought Stefano had been left behind? " 

Raffles was round in a flash, his face 
white-hot, his eyes dancing death. 

" He was in the cave ! " he shouted. " I 
saw him — I spotted him — ^it was broad twi- 
light after those stairs — ^and I went for him 
with my bare hands. Not fists, Bunny; 
not fists for a thing like that ; I meant get- 
ting my fingers into his vile little heart and 
tearing it out by the roots. I was stark 
mad. But he had the revolver — ^hers. He 
blazed it at arm's length, and missed. And 
that steadied me. I had smashed his f unny- 
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bone against the rock before he could blaze 
again; the revolver fell with a rattle, but 
without going off; in an instant I had it 
tight, and the little swine at my mercy at 
last."' 

" You didn't show him any? " 

"Mercy? With Faustina dead at my 
feet? I should have deserved none in the 
next world if I had shown him any in this ! 
No, I just stood over him, with the revolver 
in both hands, feeling the chambers with 
my thumb; and as I stood he stabbed at 
me; but I stepped back to that one, and 
brought him down with a bullet in his guts. 

" ' And I can spare you two or three 
more,' I said, for my poor girl could not 
have fired a shot. ' Take that one to hell 
with you — and that — and that ! ' 

" Then I started coughing and wheezing 
like the Count himself, for the place was 
full of smoke. When it cleared my man 
was very dead, and I tipped him into the 
sea, to defile that rather than Faustina's 
cave. And then — ^and then — we were alone 
for the last time, she and I, in our own pet 
haunt; and I could scarcely see her, yet I 
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would not strike a match, for I knew she 
would not have me see her as she was. I 
could say good-bye to her without that. I 
said it; and I left her like a man, and up 
the first open-air steps with my head in the 
air and the stars all sharp in the sky ; then 
suddenly they swam, and back I went like 
a lunatic, to see if she was really dead, to 
bring her back to life . . . Bunny, I 
can't tell you any more." 

*' Not of the Count? " I murmured at last. 

"Not even of the Count," said Raffles, 
turning round with a sigh. " I left him 
pretty sorry for himself ; but what was the 
good of that? I had taken blood for blood, 
and it was not Corbucci who had killed 
Faustina. No, the plan was his, but that 
was not part of the plan. They had found 
out about our meetings in the cave: noth- 
ing simpler than to have me kept hard at it 
overhead and to carry off Faustina by brute 
force in the boat. It was their only chance, 
for she had said more to Stefano than she 
had admitted to me, and more than I am 
going to repeat about myself. No persua- 
sion would have induced her to listen to 
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him again; so they tried force; and she 
drew Corbucci's revolver on them, but they 
had taken her by surprise, and Stefano 
stabbed her before she could fire." 

"But how do you know all that?" I 
asked Raffles, for his tale was going to 
pieces in the telling, and the tragic end of 
poor Faustina was no ending for me. 

" Oh," said he, " I had it from Corbucci 
at his own revolver's point. He was wait- 
ing at his window, and I could have potted 
him at my ease where he stood against the 
light listening hard enough but not seeing 
a thing. So he asked whether it was Ste- 
fano, and I whispered, ' Si, signore ' ; and 
then whether he had finished Arturo, and I 
brought the same shot off again. He had 
let me in before he knew who was finished 
and who was not." 

** And did you finish him ? " 

" No ; that was too good for Corbucci. 
But I bound and gagged him about as tight 
as man was ever gagged or bound, and I 
left him in his room with the shutters shut 
and the house locked up. The shutters of 
that old place were six inches thick, and 
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the walls nearly six feet; that was on the 
Saturday night, and the Count wasn't ex- 
pected at the vine)rard before the following 
Saturday. Meanwhile he was supposed to 
be in Rome. But the dead would doubtless 
be discovered next day^ and I am afraid this 
would lead to his own discovery with the 
life still in him. I believe he figured on 
that himself, for he sat threatening me 
gamely till the last. You never saw such 
a sight as he was, with his head split in two 
by a ruler tied at the back of it, and his 
great moustache pushed up into his bulging 
eyes. But I locked him up in the dark 
without a qualm, and I wished and still 
wish him every torment of the damned." 

"And then?" 

" The night was still young, and within 
ten miles there was the best of ports in a 
storm, and hundreds of holds for the hum- 
ble stowaway to choose from. But I didn't 
want to go further than Genoa, for by this 
time my Italian would wash, so I chose the 
old Norddeutscher Lloyd, and had an ex- 
cellent voyage in one of the boats slung in* 
board over the bridge. That's better than 

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any hold, Bunny, and I did splendidly on 
oranges brought from the vineyard." 

"And at Genoa?" 

" At Genoa I took to my wits once more, 
and have been living on nothing else ever 
since. But there I had to begin all over 
again, and at the very bottom of the ladder. 
I slept in the streets. I begged. I did all 
manner of terrible things, rather hoping for 
a bad end, but never coming to one. Then 
one day I saw a white-headed old chap 
looking at me through a shop-window — a 
window I had designs upon — ^and when I 
stared at him he stared at me — and we wore 
the same rags. So I had come to that I 
But one reflection makes many. I had not 
recognised myself; who on earth would 
recognise me? London called me — and 
here I am. Italy had broken my heart — 
and there it stays." 

Flippant as a schoolboy one moment, 
playful even in the bitterness of the next, 
and now no longer giving way to the feel- 
ing which had spoilt the climax of his tale. 
Raffles needed knowing as I alone knew 
him for a right appreciation of those last 

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words. That they were no mere words I 
know full well. That, but for the tragedy 
of his Italian life, that life would have suf- 
ficed him for years, if not for ever, I did 
and do still believe. But I alone see him 
as I saw him then, the lines upon his face, 
and the pain behind the lines; how they 
came to disappear, and what removed them, 
you will never guess. It was the one thing 
you would have expected to have the op- 
posite effect, the thing indeed that had 
forced his confidence, the organ and the 
voice once more beneath our very windows : 

" Margarita de Parete, 

era a' sarta d' e' signorc'; 
se pugneva sempe e ddete 
pe penzare a Salvatore I 

" Mar— ga— d, 

e perzo e Salvatore ! 
Mar — ^ga — ^rl, 

Ma r ommo h cacciatore ! 
Mar— ga — rl, 

Nun ce aje corpa tu ! 
Chello ch*^^ fatto, h fatto, un ne parlammo cchieA! •* 

I simply stared at RafHes. Instead of 
deepening, his lines had vanished. He 

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looked years younger, mischievous and 
merry and alert as I remembered him of 
old in the breathless crisis of some madcap 
escapade. He was holding up his finger; 
he was stealing to the window; he was 
peeping through the blind as though our 
side street were Scotland Yard itself; he 
was stealing back again, all revelry, excite- 
ment, and suspense. 

" I half thought they were after me be- 
fore," said he. "That was why I made 
you look. I daren't take a proper look 
myself, but what a jest if they were! 
What a jest!". 

"Do you mean the police?" said I. 

" The police ! Bunny, do you know them 
and me so little that you can look me in 
the face and ask such a question? My boy, 
Vm dead to them— off their books — ^a good 
deal deader than being off the hooks ! Why, 
if I went to Scotland Yard this minute, to 
give myself up, they'd chuck me out for 
a harmless lunatic No, I fear an enemy 
nowadays, and I go in terror of the some- 
time friend, but I have the utmost confidence 
in the dear police." 

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" Then whom do you mean? " 

"TheCamorra!" 

I repeated the word with a different in- 
tonation. Not that I had never heard of 
that most powerful and sinister of secret 
societies; but I failed to see on what 
grounds Raffles should jump to the con- 
clusion that these every-day organ-grinders 
belonged to it., 

" It was one of Corbucci's threats," said 
he. " If I killed him the Camorra would 
certainly kill me ; he kept on telling me so ; 
it was like his cunning not to say that he 
would put them on my tracks whether or 
no." 

'* He is probably a member himself ! " 

" Obviously, from what he said." 

" But why on earth should yoiTthink that 
these fellows are?" I demanded, as that 
brazen voice came rasping through a sec- 
ond verse. 

" I don't think. It was only an idea. 
That thing is so thoroughly Neapolitan, 
and I never heard it on a London organ 
before. Then again, what should bring 
them back here?" 

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I peeped through the blind in my turn; 
and, to be sure, there was the fellow with 
the blue chin and the white teeth watching 
our windows, and ours only, as he bawled. 

" And why ? " cried Raffles, his eyes danc- 
ing when I told him. " Why should they 
come sneaking back to usf Doesn't that 
look suspicious. Bunny ; doesn't that prom- 
ise a lark?" 

" Not to me," I said, having the smile 
for once. " How many people, should you 
imagine, toss them five shillings for as many 
minutes of their infernal row? You seem 
to forget that that's what you did an hour 
ago!" 

Raffles had forgotten. His blank face 
confessed the fact. Then suddenly he burst 
out laughing at himself. 

" Bunny," said he, " you've no imagina- 
tion, and I never knew I had so much ! Of 
course you're right. I only wish you were 
not, for there's nothing I should enjoy more 
than taking on another Neapolitan or two. 
You see, I owe them something still! I 
'didn't settle in full. I owe them more than 
ever I shall pay them on this side Styx 1 " 
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He had hardened even as he spoke: the 
lines and the years had come again, and 
his eyes were flint and steel, with an honest 
grief behind the glitter. 



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AS I have had occasion to remark else- 
where, the pick of our exploits, from 
a frankly criminal point of view, are of 
least use for the comparatively pure pur- 
poses of these papers. They might be ap- 
preciated in a trade journal (if only that 
want could be supplied), by skilled manipu- 
lators of the jemmy and the large light 
bunch ; but, as records of unbroken yet in- 
significant success, they would be found at 
once too trivial and too technical, if not 
sordid and unprofitable into the bargain. 
The latter epithets, and worse, have indeed 
already been applied, if not to Raffles and 
all his works, at least to mine upon Raffles, 
by more than one worthy wielder of a virtu- 
ous pen. I need not say how heartily I 
disagree with that truly pious opinion. So 
far from admitting a single word of it, I 
maintain it is the liveliest warning that I 
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am giving to the world. Raffles was a 
genius, and he could not make it pay ! Raf- 
fles had invention, resource, incomparable 
audacity, and a nerve in ten thousand. He 
was both strategian and tactician, and we 
all now know the difference between the 
two. Yet for months he had been hiding 
like a rat in a hole, unable to show even his 
altered face by night or day without risk, 
unless another risk were courted by three 
inches of conspicuous crape. Then thus far 
our rewards had oftener than not been no 
reward at all. Altogether it was a very dif- 
ferent story from the old festive, unsus- 
pected, club and cricket days, with their 
nodes amhrosiavKB at the Albany. 

And now, in addition to the eternal peril 
of recognition, there was yet another men- 
ace of which I knew nothing. I thought 
no more of our Neapolitan organ-grinders, 
though I did often think of the moving page 
that they had torn for me out of my friend's 
strange life in Italy. Raffles never alluded 
to the subject again, and for my part I had 
entirely forgotten his wild ideas connecting 
the organ-grinders with the Camorra, and 
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imagining them upon his own tracks. I 
heard no more of it, and thought as little, 
as I say. Then one night in the autumn — 
I shrink from shocking the susceptible for 
nothing — ^but there was a certain house in 
Palace Gardens, and when we got there 
Raffles would pass on. I could see no soul 
in sight, no glimmer in the windows. But 
Raffles had my arm, and on we went with- 
out talking about it. Sharp to the left on 
the Notting Hill side, sharper still up Silver 
Street, a little tacking west and south, a 
plunge across High Street, and presently 
we were home. 

" Pyjamas first," said Raffles, with as 
much authority as though it mattered. It 
was a warm night, however, though Sep- 
tember, and I did not mind until I came in 
clad as he commanded to find the autocrat 
himself still booted and capped. He was 
peeping through the blind, and the gas was 
still turned down. But he said that I could 
turn it up, as he helped himself to a ciga- 
rette and nothing with it. 

" May I mix you one ? " said I. 

"* No, thanks." 

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Raffles 

: "What's the trouble?" 

"We were followed/' 

"Never!" 

" You never saw it/* 

" But you never looked round." 

" I have an eye at the back of each ear, 
Bunny." 

I helped myself and I fear with less mod- 
eration than might have been the case a 
minute before. 

" So that was why " 

" That was why/' said RafHes, nodding ; 
but he did not smile, and I put down my 
glass untouched. 

" They were following us then 1 " 

" All up Palace Gardens." 

"I thought you wound about coming 
back over the hill." 

" Nevertheless, one of them's in the street 
below at this moment." 

No, he was not fooling me. He was 
very grim. And he had not taken off a 
thing; perhaps he did not think it worth 
while. 

" Plain clothes? " I sighed, following the 
sartorial train of thought, even to the loath- 

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ly arrows that had decorated my person 
once already for a little aeon. Next time 
they would give me double. The skilly was 
in my stomach when I saw Raffles's face. 

"Who said it was the police, Bunny?*' 
said he. " It's the Italians. They're only 
after me; they won't hurt a hair of your 
head, let alone cropping it I Have a drink, 
and don't mind me. I shall score them off 
before I'm done." : 

"And I'll help you 1'' 

" No, old chap, you won't. This is my 
own little show. I've known about it for 
weeks. I first tumbled to it the day those 
Neapolitans came back with their organs, 
though I didn't seriously suspect things 
then; they never came again, those two, 
they had done their part. That's the Ca- 
morra all over, from all accounts. The 
Count I told you about is pretty high up in 
it, by the way he spoke, but there will be 
grades and grades between him and the 
organ-grinders. I shouldn't be surprised if 
he had every low-down Neapolitan ice- 
creamer in the town upon my tracks ! The 
organisation's incredible. [Then ido you re- 
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Raffles 

member the superior foreigner who came to 
the door a few days afterwards ? You said 
he had velvet eyes." 

" I never connected him with those two ! " 

"Of course you didn't, Bunny, so you 
threatened to kick the fellow downstairs, 
and only made them keener on the scent. 
It was too late to say an)rthing when you 
told me. But the very next time I showed 
my nose outside I heard a camera click as 
I passed, and the fiend was a person with 
velvet eyes. Then there was a lull — ^that 
happened weeks ago. They had sent me to 
Italy for identification by Count Corbucci." 

"But this is all theory/' I exclaimed. 
" How on earth can you know ? " 

"I don't know," said Raffles, "but I 
should like to bet. Our friend the blood- 
hound is hanging about the corner near the 
pillar-box; look through my window, it's 
dark in there, and tell me who he is." % 

The man was too far away for me to 
swear to his face, but he wore a covert-cpat 
of un-English length, and the lamp across 
the road played steadily on his boots ; they 
wrcre very yellow, and they made no noise 

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when he took a turn. I strained my eyes, 
and all at once I remembered the thin-soled, 
low-heeled, splay yellow boots of the in- 
sidious foreigner, with the soft eyes and 
the brown-paper face, whom I had turned 
from the door as a palpable fraud. The 
ring at the bell was the first I had heard of 
him, there had been no warning step upon 
the stairs, and my suspicious eye had 
searched his feet for rubber soles. 

" It's the fellow," I said, returning to 
Raffles, and I described his boots. 

Raffles was delighted. 

" Well done. Bunny ; you're coming on," 
said he. " Now I wonder if he's been over 
here all the time, or if they sent him over 
expressly? You did better than you think 
in spotting those boots, for they can only 
have been made in Italy, and that looks like 
the special envoy. But it's no use specu- 
lating. I must find out." 

" How can you ? " 

" He won't stay there all night." 

"Well?" 

" When he gets tired of it I shall return 
the compliment and follow him/^ 
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Raffles 

" Not alone," said I, firmly. 

"Well, we'll see. We'll see at once,'' 
said Raffles, rising. "Out with the gas. 
Bunny, while I take a look. Thank you. 
Now wait a bit . • . yes ! He's chucked 
it ; he's off already ; and so am I ! " 

But I slipped to our outer door, and held 
the passage. 

" I don't let you go alone, you know." 

" You can't come with me in pyjamas." 

" Now I see why you made me put them 
on!" 

" Bunny, if you don't shift I shall have 
to shift you. This is my very own private 
one-man show. But I'll be back in an hour 
—there!" 

"You swear?" 

" By all my gods." 

I gave in. How could I help giving in? 
He did not look the man that he had been, 
but you never knew with Raffles, and I 
could not have him lay a hand on me. I 
let him go with a shrug and my blessing, 
then ran into his room to see the last of him 
from the window. 

The creature in the coat and boots had 
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reached the end of our little street, where 
he appeared to have hesitated, so that Raf- 
fles was just in time to see which way he 
turned. And Raffles was after him at an 
easy pace, and had himself almost reached 
the comer when my attention was distracted 
from the alert nonchalance of his gait. I 
was marvelling that it alone had not long 
ago bewrayed him, for nothing about him 
was so unconsciously characteristic, when 
suddenly I realised that Raffles was not the 
only person in the little lonely street. An- 
other pedestrian had entered from the other 
end, a man heavily built and clad, with an 
astrakhan collar to his coat on this warm 
night, and a black slouch hat that hid his 
features from my bird's-eye view. His 
steps were the short and shuffling ones of a 
man advanced in years and in fatty degen- 
eration, but of a sudden they stopped be- 
neath my very eyes. I could have dropped 
a marble into the dinted crown of the black 
felt hat. Then, at the same moment. Raf- 
fles turned the corner without looking 
round, and the big man below raised both 
his hands and his face. Of the latter I saw 
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only the huge white moustache, like a fly- 
ing gull, as Raffles had described it ; for at 
a glance I divined that this was his arch- 
enemy, the Count Corbucci himself. 

I did not stop to consider the subtleties of 
the system by which the real hunter lagged 
behind while his subordinate pointed the 
quarry like a sporting dog. I left the Count 
shuffling onward faster than before, and I 
jumped into some clothes as though the 
flats were on fire. If the Count was going 
to follow Raffles in his turn, then I would 
follow the Count in mine, and there would 
be a midnight procession of us through the 
town. But I found no sign of him in the 
empty street, and no sign in the Earl's 
Court Road, that looked as empty for all 
its length, save for a natural enemy stand- 
ing like a waxwork with a glimmer at his 
belt. 

" Ofiicer," I gasped, " have you seen any- 
thing of an old gentleman with a big white 
moustache?" 

The unlicked cub of a common constable 
seemed to eye me the more suspiciously for 
the flattering form of my address. 
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*^ Took a hansom/' said he at length. 

A hansom! Then he was not following 
the others on foot; there was no guessing 
his game. But something must be said or 
done. 

"He's a friend of mine," I explained, 
"and I want to overtake him. Did you 
hear where he told the fellow to drive ? " 

A curt negative was the policeman's re- 
ply to that; and if ever I take part in a 
night assault-at-arms, revolver versus baton 
in the back kitchen, I know which member 
of the Metropolitan Police Force I should 
like for my opponent. 

If there was no overtaking the Count, 
however, it should be a comparatively sim- 
ple matter in the case of the couple on foot, 
and I wildly hailed the first hansom that 
crawled into my ken. I must tell Raffles 
who it was that I had seen; the Earl's 
Court Road was long, and the time since he 
vanished in it but a few short minutes. I 
<irove down the length of that useful thor- 
oughfare, with an eye apiece on either pave- 
ment, sweeping each as with a brush, bat 
never a Raffles came into the pan. Then I 
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tried the Fulham Road, first to the west, 
then to the east, and in the end drove home 
to the flat as bold as brass. I did not realise 
my indiscretion until I had paid the man 
and was on the stairs. Raffles never dreamt 
of driving all the way back ; but I was hop- 
ing now to find him waiting up above. He 
had said an hour. I had remembered it 
suddenly. And now the hour was more 
than up. But the flat was as empty as I 
had left it ; the very light that had encour- 
aged me, pale though it was, as I turned 
the corner in my hansom, was but the light 
that I myself had left burning in the deso- 
late passage. 

I can give you no conception of the night 
that I spent. Most of it I hung across the 
sill, throwing a wide net with my ears, 
catching every footstep afar off, every han- 
som bell farther still, only to gather in some 
alien whom I seldom even landed in our 
street. Then I would listen at the door. 
He might come over the roof ; and eventu- 
ally some one did; but now it was broad 
daylight, and I flung the door open in the 
milkman's face, which whitened at the shock 
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as though I had ducked him in his own 
pail. 

"You're late," I thundered as the first 
excuse for my excitement. 

" Beg your pardon," said he, indignant- 
ly, " but I'm half an hour before my usual 
time." 

" Then I beg yours," said I ; " but the 
fact is, Mr. Maturin has had one of his bad 
nights, and I seem to have been waiting 
hours for milk to make him a cup of tea." 

This little fib (ready enough for a Raffles, 
though I say it) earned me not only for- 
giveness but that obliging sympathy which 
is a branch of the business of the man at the 
door. The good fellow said that he could 
see I had been sitting up all night, and he 
left me pluming myself upon the accidental 
art with which I had told my very necessary 
tarradiddle. On reflection I gave the credit 
to instinct, not accident, and then sighed 
afresh as I realised how the influence of the 
master was sinking into me, and he heaven 
knew where! But my punishment was 
swift to follow, for within the hour the bell 
rang imperiously twice, and there was Dr. 
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Theobald on our mat, in a yellow Jaeger 
suit, with a chin as yellow jutting over the 
flaps that he had turned up to hide his 
pyjamas. 

"What's this about a bad night?" said 
he. 

" He couldn't sleep, and he wouldn't let 
me," I whispered, never loosening my grasp 
of the door, and standing tight against the 
other wall. " But he's sleeping like a baby 
now." 

" I must see him." 

" He gave strict orders that you should 
not." 

** I'm his medical man, and I " 

" You know what he is," I said, shrug- 
ging ; " the least thing wakes him, and you 
will if you insist on seeing him now. It 
will be the last time, I warn you ! I know 
what he said, and you don't." 

The doctor cursed me under his fiery 
^ moustache. 
; " I shall come up during the course of the 
morning," he snarled. 

"And I shall tie up the bell," I said, 
^"and if it doesn't ring he'll be sleeping 

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still, but I will not risk waking him by 
coming to the door again." 

And with that I shut it in his face. I 
was improving, as Raffles had said; but 
what would it profit me if some evil had 
befallen him ? And now I was prepared for 
the worst. A boy came up whistling and 
leaving papers on the mats ; it was getting 
on for eight o'clock, and the whisky and 
soda of half-x)ast twelve stood untouched 
and stagnant in the tumbler. If the worst 
had happened to Raffles, I felt that I would 
cither never drink again, or else seldom do 
anything else. 

Meanwhile I could not even break my 
fast, but roamed the flat in a misery not to 
be described, my very linen still unchanged, 
my cheeks and chin now tawny from the 
unwholesome night. How long would it go 
on ? I wondered for a time. Then I changed 
my tune: how long could I endure it? 

It went on actually until the forenoon 
only, but my endurance cannot be measured 
by the time, for to me every hour of it was 
an arctic night. Yet it cannot have been 
much after eleven when the ring came at 

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the bell, which I had forgotten to tie up 
after all. But this was not the doctor; 
neither, too well I knew, was it the wan- 
derer returned. Our bell was the pneu- 
matic one that tells you if the touch be light 
or heavy; the hand upon it now was ten- 
tative and shy. 

The owner of the hand I had never seen 
before. He was young and ragged, with 
one eye blank, but the other ablaze with 
some fell excitement. And straightway he 
burst into a low torrent of words, of which 
all I knew was that they were Italian, and 
therefore news of Raffles, if only I had 
known the language! But dumb-show 
might help us somewhat, and in I dragged 
him, though against his will, a new alarm 
in his one wild eye. 

" Non capite? " he cried when I had him 
inside and had withstood the torrent. 

" No, I'm bothered if I do !" I answered, 
guessing his" question from his tone. 

"Vostro amico," he repeated over and 
over again ; and then, " Poco tempo,, poco 
tempo, poco tempo ! " 

For once in my life the classical educa- 

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tion of my public-school days was of real 
value. " My pal, my pal, and no time to 
be lost ! " I translated freely, and flew for 
my hat. 

" Ecco, signore ! " cried the fellow, snatch- 
ing the watch from my waistcoat pocket, 
and putting one black thumb-nail on the 
long hand, the other on the numeral 
twelve. " Mezzogiomo — ^poco tempo — ^poco 
tempo ! " And again I seized his meaning, 
that it was twenty past eleven, and we must 
be there by twelve. But where, but where? 
It was maddening to be summoned like this, 
and not to know what had happened, nor to 
have any means of finding out. But my 
presence of mind stood by me still, I was 
improving by seven-league strides, and I 
crammed my handkerchief between the 
drum and hammer of the bell before leav- 
ing. The doctor could ring now till he was 
black in the face, but I was not coming, 
and he need not think it. 

I half expected to find a hansom waiting, 
but there was none, and we had gone some 
distance down the Earl's Court Road before 
we got one ; in fact, we had to run to the 

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stand. Opposite is the church with the 
clock upon it, as everybody knows, and at 
sight of the dial my companion had wrung 
his hands ; it was close upon the half-hour. 

" Poco tempo — pochissimo ! " he wailed. 
" Bloomburee Ske-warr," he then cried to 
the cabman — " numero trentotto ! " 

" Bloom^sbury Square," I roared on my 
own accoimt, " I'll show you the house when 
we get there, only drive like be-damned! " 

My companion lay back gaspii^ in his 
comer. The sriaall glass told me that my 
own face was pretty red. 

" A nice show ! " I cried ; " and not a 
word can you tell me. Didn't you bring 
me a note ? " 

I might have known by this time that he 
had not, still I went through the pantomime 
of writing with my finger on my cuff. But 
he shrugged and shook his head. 

" Niente," said he. " Una quistione di 
vita, di vita ! " 

"What's that?" I snapped, my early 
training come in again. " Say it slowly — 
andante — rallentando." 

Thank Italy for the stage instructions in 
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the songs one used to murder ! The fellow 
actually understood. 

" Una — quistione— di — ^vita." 

" Or mors, eh ? " I shouted, and up went 
the trap-door over our heads. 

" Avanti, avanti, avanti ! " cried the Ital- 
ian, turning up his one-eyed face. 

" Hell - to - leather," I translated, "and 
double fare if you do it by twelve o'clock." 

But in the streets of London how is one 
to know the time? In the Earl's Court 
Road it had not been half-past, and at 
Barker's in High Street it was but a min- 
ute later. A long half-mile a minute, that 
was going like the wind, and indeed we had 
done much of it at a gallop. But the next 
hundred yards took us five minutes by the 
next clock, and which was one to believe? 
I fell back upon my own old watch (it was 
my own), which made it eighteen minutes 
to the hour as we swung across the Serpen- 
tine bridge, and by the quarter we were in 
the Bayswater Road — ^not up for once. 

"Presto, presto," my pale guide mur- 
mured. " Aflf retatevi — avanti ! " 

" Ten bob if you do it," I cried through 
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the trap, without the slightest notion of 
what we were to do. But it was "una 
quistione di vita," and "vostro amico" 
must and could only be my miserable Raf- 
fles. 

What a very godsend is the perfect han- 
som to the man or woman in a hurry ! It 
had been our great good fortune to jump 
into a perfect hansom ; there was no choice, 
we had to take the first upon the rank, but 
it must have deserved its place with the rest 
nowhere. New tires, superb springs, a horse 
in a thousand, and a driver up to every 
trick of his trade ! In and out we went like 
a fast half-back at the Rugby game, yet 
where the traffic was thinnest, there were 
we. And how he knew his way! At the 
Marble Arch he slipped out of the main 
stream", and so into Wigmore Street, then 
up and in and out and on until I saw the 
gold tips of the Museum palisade gleaming 
between the horses* ears in the sun. Plop, 
plop, plop; ting, ling, ling; bell and horse- 
shoes, horse-shoes and bell, until the colos- 
sal figure of C. J. Fox in a grimy toga spelt 
Bloomsbury Square with my watch still 
wanting three minutes to the hour. 
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"What number?" cried the good fellow 
overhead. 

"Trentotto, trentotto," said my guide, 
but he was looking to the right, and I 
bundled him out to show the house on foot. 
I had not half-a-sovereign after all, but I 
flung our dear driver a whole one instead, 
and only wish that it had been a hundred. 

Already the Italian had his latch-key in 
the door of 38, and in another moment we 
were rushing up the narrow stairs of as 
dingy a London house as prejudiced coun- 
tryman can conceive. It was panelled, but 
it was dark and evil-smtelling, and how we 
should have found our way even to the 
stairs but for an unwholesome jet of yellow 
gas in the hall, I cannot myself imagine. 
However, up we went pell-mell, to the 
right-about on the half-landing, and so like 
a whirlwind into the drawing-room a few 
steps higher. There the gas was also burn- 
ing behind closed shutters, and the scene is 
photographed upon my brain, though I can- 
not have looked upon it for a whole instant 
as I sprang in at my leader's heels. 

This room also was panelled, and in the 
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middle of the wall on our left, his hands 
lashed to a ring-bolt high above his head, 
his toes barely touching the floor, his neck 
pinioned by a strap passing through smaller 
ring-bolts under either ear, and every inch 
of him secured on the same principle, stood, 
or rather hung, all that was left of Raffles, 
for at the first glance I believed him dead, 
A black ruler gagged him, the ends lashed 
behind his neck, the blood upon it caked to 
bronze in the gaslight. And in front of 
him, ticking like a sledge-hammer, its only 
hand upon the stroke of twelve, stood a 
simple, old-fashioned, grandfather's dock 
— ^but not for half an instant longer-K)nly 
until my guide could hurl himself upon it 
and send the whole thing crashing into the 
corner. An ear-splitting report accompan- 
ied the crash, a white cloud lifted from the 
fallen clock, and I saw a revolver smoking 
in a vice screwed below the dial, an arrange- 
ment of wires sprouting from the dial itself, 
and the single hand at once at its zenith 
and in contact with these. 

"Tumble to it, Bunny?" 

He was alive ; these were his first words ; 
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the Italian had the blood-caked ruler in his 
hand, and with his knife was reaching up to 
cut the thongs that lashed the hands. He 
was not tall enough, I seized him and lifted 
him up, then fell to work with my own 
knife upon the straps. And Raffles smiled 
faintly upon us through his blood-stains. 

" I want you to tumble to it," he whis- 
pered; "the neatest thing in revenge I 
ever knew, and another minute would have 
fixed it. I've been waiting for it twelve 
hours, watching the clock round, death at 
the end of the lapl Electric connection. 

Simple enough. Hour-hand only O 

Lord!" 

We had cut the last strap. He could not 
stand. We supported him between us to a 
horsehair sofa, for the room was furnished, 
and I begged him not to speak, while his 
one-eyed deliverer was at the door before 
Raffles recalled him with a sharp word in 
Italian. 

" He wants to get me a drink, but that 

can wait," said he, in firmer voice; "I 

shall enjoy it the more when IVe told you 

what happened. Don't let him go. Bunny ; 

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put your back against the doon He's a 
decent soul, and it's lucky for me I got a 
word with him before they trussed me up. 
I've promised to set him up in life, and I 
will, but I don't want him out of my sight 
for the moment." 

" If you squared him last night," I ex- 
claimed, "why the blazes didn't he come 
to me till the eleventh hour? " 

"Ah, I knew he'd have to cut it fine, 
though I hoped not quite so fine as all that. 
But all's well that ends well, and I declare 
I don't feel so much the worse. I shall be 
sore about the gills for a bit — ^and what do 
you think?" 

He pointed to the long black ruler with 
the bronze stain ; it lay upon the floor ; he 
held out his hand for it, and I gave it to 
hint. 

" The same one I gagged him with," said 
Raffles, with his still ghastly smile; "he 
was a bit of an artist, old Corbucci, after 
all!" 

"Now let's hear how you fell into his 
clutches," said I, briskly, for I was as anx- 
ious to hear as he seemed to tell me, only 
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for my part I could have waited until we 
were safe in the flat. 

" I do want to get it off my chest, Bun- 
ny," old Raffles admitted, " and yet I hardly 
can tell you after all: I followed your 
friend with the velvet eyes. I followed him 
all the way here. Of course I came up to 
have a good look at the house when he'd let 
himself in, and damme if he hadn't left the 
door ajar! Who could resist that? I had 
pushed it half open and had just one foot 
on the mat when I got such a crack on the 
head as I hope never to get again. When 
I came to my wits they were hauling me 
up to that ring-bolt by the hands, and old 
Corbucci himself was bowing to me, but 
how he got here I don't know yet." 

*' I can tell you that," said I, and told 
how I had seen the Count for myself on 
the pavement underneath our windows. 
" Moreover," I continued, " I saw him spot 
you, and five minutes after in Earl's Court 
Road I was told he'd driven off in a cab. 
He would see you following his man, drive 
home ahead, and catch you by having the 
door left open in the way you describe." 
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''Well," said Raffles, ''he deserved to 
catch me somehow, for he'd come from 
Naples on purpose, ruler and all, and the 
ring-bolts were ready fixed, and even this 
house taken furnished for nothing else! 
He meant catching me before he'd done, 
and scoring me off in exactly the same way 
that I scored off him, only going one better 
of course. He told me so himself, sitting 
where I am sitting now, at three o'clock 
this morning, and smoking a most abom- 
inable cigar that I've smelt ever since. It 
appears he sat twenty-four hours when I 
left him trussed up, but he said twelve 
would content him in my case, as there was 
certain death at the end of them, and I 
mightn't have life enough left to appreciate 
my end if he made it longer. But I wouldn't 
have trusted him if he could have got the 
clock to go twice round without firing off 
the pistol. He explained the whole mech- 
anism of that to me ; he had thought it all 
out on the vineyard I told you about ; and 
then he asked if I remembered what he had 
promised me in the name of the Camorra. 
I only remembered some vague threats, but 
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he was good enough to give me so many 
particulars of that institution that I could 
make a European reputation by exposing 
the whole show if it wasn't for my unfort- 
unate resemblance to that infernal rascal 
RafHes. Do you think they would know 
me at the Yard, Bunny, after all this time? 
Upon my soul I've a good mind to risk 
it!" 

I offered no opinion on the point. How 
could it interest me then? But interested 
I was in RafHes, never more so in my life. 
He had been tortured all night and half 
a day, yet he could sit and talk like this 
the moment we cut him down; he had 
been within a minute of his death, yet he 
was as full of life as ever; ill-treated and 
defeated at the best, he could still smile 
through his blood as though the boot were 
on the other leg. I had imagined that I 
knew my RaflBes at last. I was not likely 
so to flatter myself again. 

" But what has happened to these vil- 
lains?" I burst out, and my indignation 
was not only against them for their cruelty, 
but also against their victim for his phleg- 
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Raffles 

matic attitude toward them. It was diffi- 
cult to believe that this was Raffles. 

" Oh," said he, " they were to go off to 
Italy instanter; they should be crossing 
now. But do listen to what I am telling 
you; it's interesting, my dear man. This 
old sinner Corbucci turns out to have been 
no end of a boss in the Camorra — says so 
himself. One of the capi paranse, my boy, 
no less ; and the velvety Johnny a giovano 
onorato, Anglice, fresher. This fellow here 
was also in it, and I've sworn to protect 
him from them evermore; and it's just as 
I said, half the organ-grinders in London 
belong, and the whole lot of them were put 
on my tracks by secret instructions. This 
excellent youth manufactures iced poison 
on Saffron Hill when he's at home." 

"And why on earth didn't he come to 
me quicker?" 

" Because he couldn't talk to you, he 
could only fetch you, and it was as much 
as his life was worth to do that before our 
friends had departed. They were going by 
the eleven o'clock from Victoria, and that 
didn't leave much chance, but he certainly 
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oughtn't to have run it as fine as he did. 
Still you must remember that I had to fix 
things up with him in the fewest possible 
words, in a single minute that the other 
two were indiscreet enough to leave us 
alone together." 

The ragamuffin in question was watch- 
ing us with all his solitary eye, as though 
he knew that we were discussing him. 
Suddenly he broke out in agonised accents, 
his hands clasped, and a face so full of 
fear that every moment I expected to see 
him on his knees. But RafHes answered 
kindly, reassuringly, I could tell from his 
tone, and then turned to me with a com- 
passionate shrug. 

" He says he couldn't find the mansions, 
Bunny, and really it's not to be wondered 
at I had only time to tell him to hunt 
you up and bring you here by hook or 
crook before twelve to-day, and after all he 
has done that. But now the poor devil 
thinks you're riled with him, and that we'll 
give him away to the Camorra." 

"Oh, it's not with him I'm riled," I 
said frankly, " but with those other black- 
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Raffles 

guards, and — and with you, old chap, for 
taking it all as you do, while such in- 
famous scoundrels have the last laugh, and 
are safely on their way to France ! '* 

Raffles looked up at me with a curiously 
open eye, an eye that I never saw when 
he was not in earnest. I. fancied he did 
not like my last expression but one. After 
all, it was no laughing matter to him. 

" But are they? " said he. " I'm not so 
sure.'* 

" You said they were ! " 

" I said they should be." 

" Didn't you hear them go? " 

"I heard nothing but the clock all 
night. It was like Big Ben striking at the 
last — striking nine to the fellow on the 
drop." 

And in that open eye I saw at last a 
deep glimmer of the ordeal through which 
he had passed. 

" But, my dear old Raffles, if they're still 
on the premises " 

Th^ thought was too thrilling for a fin- 
ished sentence. 

" I hope they are," he said grimly, go- 
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The Last Laugh 

ing to the door. "There's a gas on! 
Was that burning when you came in ? " 

Now that I thought of it, yes, it had 
been. 

" And there's a frightfully foul smell," I 
added, as I followed Raffles down the 
stairs. He turned to me gravely with his 
hand upon the front-room door, and at the 
same moment I saw a coat with an astra- 
khan collar hanging on the pegs. 

" They are in here. Bunny," he said, and 
turned the handle. 

The door would only open a few inches. 
But a detestable odour came out, with a 
broad bar of yellow gaslight. Raffles put 
his handkerchief to his nose. I followed 
his example, signing to our ally to do the 
same, and in another minute we had all 
three squeezed into the room. 

The man with the yellow boots was 
lying against the door, the Count's great 
carcase sprawled upon the table, and at a 
glance it was evident that both men had 
been dead some hours. The old Camor- 
rist had the stem of a liqueur-glass between 
his swollen blue fingers, one of which had 
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been cut in the breakage, and the livid flesh 
was also brown with the last blood that it 
would ever shed. His face was on the 
table, the huge moustache projecting from 
under either leaden cheek, yet looking it- 
self strangely alive. Broken bread and 
scraps of frozen macaroni lay upon the 
cloth and at the bottom of two soup-plates 
and a tureen; the macaroni had a tinge 
of tomato ; and there was a crimson dram 
left in the tumblers, with an empty fiasco 
to show whence it came. But near the 
great grey head upon the table another 
liqueur-glass stood, unbroken, and still full 
of some white and stinking liquid; and 
near that a tiny silver flask, which made 
me recoil from Raflles as I had not from 
the dead ; for I knew it to be his. 

" Come out of this poisonous air," he 
said sternly, "and I will tell you how it 
has happened." 

So we all three gathered together in the 
hall. But it was Raffles who stood nearest 
the street-door, his back to it, his eyes 
upon us two. And though it was to me 
only that he spoke at first, he would pause 
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from point to point, and translate into 
Italian for the benefit of the one-eyed alien 
to whom he owed his life. 

"You probably don't even know the 
name. Bunny/* he began, " of the deadliest 
poison yet known to science. It is cyanide 
of cacodyl, and I have carried that small 
flask of it about with me for months. 
Where I got it matters nothing; the whole 
point is^that a mere sniff reduces flesh to 
clay. I have never had any opinion of sui- 
cide, as you know, but I always felt it 
worth while to be fore-armed against the 
very worst. Well, a bottle of this stuff 
is calculated to stiffen an ordinary room- 
ful of ordinary people within five minutes ; 
and I remembered my flask when they had 
me as good as crucified in the small hours 
of this morning. I asked them to take it 
out of my pocket. I begged them to give 
me a drink before they left me. And what 
do you suppose they did ? " 

I thought of many things but suggested 
none, while Raffles turned this much of his 
statement into sufficiently fluent Italian. 
But when he faced me again his face was 
still flaming. 

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" That beast Corbucci ! " said he—" how 
can I pity him? He took the flask; he 
would give me none ; he flicked me in the 
face instead. My idea was that he,, at 
least, should go with me — to sell my life 
as dearly as that — ^and a sniff would have 
settled us both. But no, he must tantalise 
and torment me; he thought it brandy; 
he must take it downstairs to drink to my 
destruction ! Can you have any pity for a 
hound Hke that ? " 

" Let us go," I at last said, hoarsely, as 
Raffles finished speaking in Italian, and 
his second listener stood open-mouthed. 

"We will go," said Raffles, "and we 
will chance being seen ; if the worst comes 
to the worst this good chap will prove that 
I have been tied up since one o'clock this 
morning, and the medical evidence will de- 
cide how long those dogs have been dead." 

But the worst did not come to the worst, 
more power to my unforgotten friend the 
cabman, who never came forward to say 
what manner of men he had driven to 
Bloomsbury Square at top speed on the 
very day upon which the tragedy was dis- 
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covered there, or whence he had driven 
them. To be sure, they had not behaved 
like murderers, whereas the evidence at the 
inquest all went to show that the defunct 
Corbucci was little better. His reputation, 
which transpired with his identity, was 
that of a libertine and a renegade, while 
the infernal apparatus upstairs revealed the 
fiendish arts of the anarchist to boot. 
The inquiry resulted eventually in an open 
verdict, and was chiefly instrumental in 
killing such compassion as is usually felt 
for the dead who die in their sins. 

But RafHes would not have passed this 
title for this tale. 



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TO CATCH A THIEF 



SOCIETY persons are not likely to have 
forgotten the series of audacious rob- 
beries by which so many of themselves 
suffered in turn during the brief course of 
a recent season. Raid after raid was made 
upon the smartest houses in town, and 
within a few weeks more than one exalted 
head had been shorn of its priceless tiara. 
The Duke and Duchess of Dorchester lost 
half the portable pieces of their historic 
plate on the very night of their Graces' 
almost equally historic costume ball. The 
Kenworthy diamonds were taken in broad 
daylight, during the excitement of a chari- 
table meeting on the ground floor, and 
the gifts of her belted bridegroom to Lady 
May Paulton while the outer air was thick 
with a prismatic shower of confetti. It 
was obvious that all this was the work of 
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To Catch a Thief 

no ordinary thief, and perhaps inevitable 
that the name of Raffles should have been 
dragged from oblivion by callous disre- 
specters of the departed and unreasoning 
apologists for the police. These wiseacres 
did not hesitate to bring a dead man back 
to life because they knew of no living one 
capable of such feats; it is their heed- 
less and inconsequent calumnies that the 
present paper is partly intended to refute. 
As a matter of fact, our joint innocence in 
this matter was only exceeded by our com- 
mon envy, and for a long time, like the 
rest of the world, neither of us had the 
slightest clue to the identity of the person 
who was following in our steps with such 
irritating results. 

" I should mind less," said Raffles, " if 
the fellow were really pla)ring my game. 
But abuse of hospitality was never one of 
my strokes, and it seems to me the only 
shot he's got. When we took old Lady 
Melrose's necklace, Bunny, we were not 
staying with the Melroses, if you recollect." 

We were discussing the robberies for the 
hundredth time, but for once under condi- 
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Raffles 

tions more favourable to animated conver- 
sation than our unique circumstances per- 
mitted in the flat. We did not often dine 
out. Dr. Theobald was one impediment, the 
risk of recognition was another. But there 
were exceptions, when the doctor was 
away or the patient defiant, and on these 
rare occasions we frequented a certain un- 
pretentious restaurant in the Fulham quar- 
ter, where the cooking was plain but ex- 
cellent, and the cellar a surprise. Oiu* 
bottle of '89 champagne was empty to the 
label when the subject arose, to be touched 
by Raffles in the reminiscent manner indi- 
cated above. I can see his clear eye upon 
me now, reading me, weighing me. But 
I was not so sensitive to his scrutiny at 
the time. His tone was deliberate, calcu- 
lating, preparatory ; not as I heard it then, 
though a head full of wine, but as it floats 
back to me across the gulf between that 
moment and this. 

" Excellent fillet ! " said I grossly. " So 
you think this chap is as much in society 
as we were, do you ? " 

I preferred not to think so myself. We 
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had cause enough for jealousy without 
that. But Raffles raised his eyebrows an 
eloquent half-inch. 

" As much, my dear Bunny? He is not 
only in it, but of it ; there's no comparison 
between us there. Society is in rings like 
a target, and we never were in the bull's- 
eye, however thick you may lay on the 
ink ! ' I was asked for my cricket. I 
haven't forgotten it yet But this fellow's 
one of themselves, with the right of entree 
into houses which we could only * enter' 
in a professional sense. That's obvious un- 
less all these little exploits are the work 
of different hands, which they as obviously 
are not. And it's why I'd give five hun- 
dred pounds to put salt on him to-night ! '* 

" Not you," said I, as I drained my glass 
in festive incredulity. 

" But I would, my dear Bunny. Waiter \ 
another half-bottle of this," and Raffles 
leant across the table as the empty one 
was taken away. ** I never was more seri- 
ous in my life," he continued below his 
breath. " Whatever else our successor may 
be, he's not a dead man like me, or a 
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marked man like you. If there's any truth 
in my theory he's one of the last people 
upon whom suspicion is ever likely to 
rest; and oh, Bunny, what a partner he 
would make for you and me ! " 

Under less genial influences the very 
idea of a third partner would have filled 
my soul with offence; but Raffles had 
chosen his moment unerringly, and his ar- 
guments lost nothing by the flowing ac- 
companiment of the extra pint. They 
were, however, quite strong in themselves. 
The gist of them was that thus far we had 
remarkably little to show for what Raffles 
would call "our second innings." This 
even I could not deny. We had scored a 
few " long singles," but our " best shots " 
had gone " straight to hand," and we were 
" playing a deuced slow game." Therefore 
we needed a new partner — and the meta- 
phor failed Raffles. It had served its turn. 
I already agreed with him. In truth I was 
tired of my false position as hireling at- 
tendant, and had long fancied myself an 
object of suspicion to that other impostor 
the doctor. A fresh, untrammelled start 
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was a fascinatmg idea to me, though two 
was company, and three in our case might 
be worse than none. But I did not see 
how we could hope, with our respective 
handicaps, to solve a problem which was 
aheady the despair of Scotland Yard. 

"Suppose I have solved it," observed 
Raffles, cracking a walnut in his palm. 

" How could you? " I asked, without be- 
lieving for an instant that he had. 

" I have been taking the Morning Post 
for some time now." 

"Well?" 

"You have got me a good many odd 
numbers of the less base society papers." 

" I can't for the life of me see what 
you're driving at." 

Raffles smiled indulgently as he cracked 
another nut. 

" That's because you've neither observa- 
tion nor imagination, Bunny — and yet you 
try to write ! Well, you wouldn't think it, 
but I have a fairly complete list of the 
people who were at* the various functions 
under cover of which these different little 
coups were brought off." 
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Raffles 

I said very stolidly that I did not see 
how that could help him. It was the only 
answer to his good-humoured but self- 
satisfied contempt; it happened also to be 
true. 

" Think," said Raffles, in a patient voice. 

" When thieves break in and steal," said 
I, " upstairs, I don't see much point in 
discovering who was downstairs at the 
time." 

"Quite," said Raffles— "when they do 
break in." 

" But that's what they have done in 
all these cases. An upstairs door found 
screwed up, when things were at their 
height below; thief gone and jewels with 
him before alarm could be raised. Why, 
the trick's so old that I never knew you 
condescend to play it." 

" Not so old as it looks," said Raffles, 
choosing the cigars and handing- me mine. 
" Cognac or Benedictine, Bunny? " 

" Brandy," I said coarsely. 

" Besides," he went on, " the rooms were 
not screwed up; at Dorchester House, at 
any rate, the door was only locked, and the 
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Key missing, so that it might have been 
done on either side." 

" But that was where he left his rope- 
ladder behind him ! " I exclaimed in tri- 
umph; but Raffles only shook his head. 

"I don't believe in that rope-ladder, 
Bunny, except as a blind." 

" Then what on earth do you believe? " 

" That every one of these so-called bur- 
glaries has been done from the inside, by 
one of the guests; and what's more I'm 
very much mistaken if I haven't spotted 
the right sportsman." 

I began to believe that he really had, 
there was such a wicked gravity in the 
eyes that twinkled faintly into mine. I 
raised my glass in convivial congratula- 
tion, and still remember the somewhat 
anxious eye with which Raffles saw it 
emptied. 

" I can only find one likely name," he 
continued, " that figures in all these lists, 
and it is anything but a likely one at first 
sight. Lord Ernest Belville was at all 
those functions. Know anything about 
him, Bunny?" 

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"Not the Rational Drink fanatic?" 

"Yes." 

" That's all I want to know." 

"Quite," said Raffles; "and yet what 
could be more promising? A man whose 
views are so broad and moderate, and so 
widely held already (saving your presence, 
Bunny), does not bore the world with them 
without ulterior motives. So far so good. 
What are this chap's motives? Does he 
want to advertise himself? No, he's some- 
body already. But is he rich? On the 
contrary, he's as poor as a rat for his po- 
sition, and apparently without the least 
ambition to be anything else ; certainly he 
won't enrich himself by making a public 
fad of what all sensible people are agreed 
upon as it is. Then suddenly one gets 
one's own old idea — ^the alternative pro- 
fession ! My cricket — his Rational Drink ! 
But it is no use jumping to conclusions. I 
must know more than the newspapers can 
tell me. Our aristocratic friend is forty, 
and unmarried. What has he been doing 
all these years? How the devil was I to 
find out?" 

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" How did you ? " I asked, declining to 
spoil my digestion with a conundrum, as 
it was his evident intention that I should. 

"Interviewed him!" said Raffles, smil- 
ing slowly on my amazement. 

"You — interviewed him?** I echoed. 
"When— and where?" 

" Last Thursday night, when, if you re- 
member, we kept early hours, because I 
felt done. What was the use of telling 
you what I had up my sleeve. Bunny? It 
might have ended in fizzle, as it still may. 
But Lord Ernest Belville was addressing 
the meeting at Exeter Hall; I waited for 
him when the show was over, dogged him 
home to King John's Mansions, and in- 
terviewed him in his own rooms there be- 
fore he turned in." 

My journalistic jealousy was piqued to 
the quick. Affecting a scepticism I did 
not feel (for no outrage was beyond the 
pale of his impudence), I inquired dryly 
which journal Raffles had pretended to 
represent. It is unnecessary to report his 
answer. I could not believe him without 
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" I should have thought," he said, " thstf 
even you would have spotted a practice I 
never omit upon certain occasions. I al- 
ways pay a visit to the drawing-room and 
fill my waistcoat pocket from the card-tray. 
It is an immense help in any little tem- 
porary impersonation. On Thursday night 
I sent up the card of a powerful writer 
connected with a powerful paper; if Lord 
Ernest had known him in the fiesh I 
should have been obliged to confess to a 
journalistic ruse ; luckily he didn't — ^and I 
had been sent by my editor to get the in- 
terview for next morning. What could be 
better — ^for the alternative profession ? '* 

I inquired what the interview had 
brought forth. 

" Everything,*' said RafHes. " Lord Er- 
nest has been a wanderer these twenty 
years. Texas, Fiji, Australia. I suspect 
him of wives and families in all three. But 
his manners are a liberal education. He 
gave me some beautiful whisky, and for- 
got all about his fad. He is strong and 
subtle, but I talked him off his guard. He 
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saw the card stuck up. I stuck some wax 
into his keyhole as he was switching off 
the lights." ' 

And, with an eye upon the waiters, Raf- 
fles showed me a skeleton key, newly 
twisted and filed; but my share of the 
extra pint (I am afraid no fair share) had 
made me dense. I looked from the key to 
Raffles with puckered forehead — for I hap- 
pened to catch sight of it in the mirror 
behind him. 

*' The Dowager Lady Kirkleatham," he 
whispered, " has diamonds as big as beans, 
and likes to have 'em all on — ^^and goes to 
bed early — and happens to be in town!** 

And now I saw. 

"The villain means to get them from 
her!" 

"And I mean to get them from the 
villain," said Rafiles; "or, rather, your 
share and mine." 

" Will he consent to a partnership ? " 

" We shall have him at our mercy. He 
daren't refuse." 

Raffles's plan was to gain access to Lord 
Ernest's rooms before midnight ; there we 
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were to lie in wait for the aristocratic ras- 
cal, and if I left all details to RafHes, and 
simply stood by in case of a rumpus, I 
should be playing my part and earning my 
share. It was a part that I had played be- 
fore, not always with a good grace, though 
there had never been any question about 
the share. But to-night I was nothing 
loth. I had had just champagne enough — 
how Raffles knew my measure ! — ^and I was 
ready and eager for anything. Indeed, I 
did not wish to wait for the coffee, which 
was to be especially strong by order of 
Raffles. But on that he insisted, and it was 
between ten and eleven when at last we 
were in our cab. 

" It would be fatal to be too early," he 
said as we drove ; " on the other hand, it 
would be dangerous to leave it too late. 
One must risk something. How I should 
love to drive down Piccadilly and see the 
lights ! But unnecessary risks are another 
story." 



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II 

King John's Mansions, as everybody 
knows, are the oldest, the ugliest, and the 
tallest block of flats in all London. But 
they are built upon a more generous scale 
than has since become the rule, and with 
a less studious regard for the economy of 
space. We were about to drive into the 
spacious courtyard when the gate-keeper 
checked us in order to let another hansom 
drive out. It contained a middle-aged man 
of the military type, like ourselves in even- 
ing dress. That much I saw as his han- 
som crossed our bows, because I could not 
help seeing it, but I should not have given 
the incident a second thought if it had not 
been for his extraordinary effect upon 
RafHes. In an instant he was out upon 
the curb, paying the cabby, and in another 
he was leading me across the street, away 
from the mansions. 

"Where on earth are you going?" I 
naturally exclaimed. 

" Into the park,'' said he. " We are too 
early." 

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His voice told me more than his words. 
It was strangely stem. 

" Was that him — ^in the hansom ? '' 

" It was." 

"Well, then, the coast's clear," said I, 
comfortably. I was for turning back then 
and there, but Raffles forced me on with 
a hand that hardened on my arm. 

" It was a nearer thing than I care 
about," said he. " This seat will do ; no, 
the next one's further from a lamp-post. 
We will give him a good half-hour, and I 
don't want to talk." 

We had been seated some minutes when 
Big Ben sent a languid chime over our 
heads to the stars. It was half-past ten, 
and a sultry night. Eleven had struck be- 
fore Raffles awoke from his sullen reverie, 
and recalled me from mine with a slap on 
the back. In a couple of minutes we were 
in the lighted vestibule at the inner end of 
the courtyard of King John's Mansions. 

"Just left Lord Ernest at Lady Kirk- 

leatham's," said Raffles. "Gave me his 

key and asked us to wait for him in his 

rooms. Will you send us up in the lift? " 

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In a small way, I never knew old Raffles 
do anything better. There was not an 
instant's demur. Lord Ernest Belville's 
rooms were at the top of the building, but 
we were in them as quickly as lift could 
carry and page-boy conduct us. And there 
was no need for the skeleton key after all ; 
the boy opened the outer door with one 
of his own, and switched on the lights be- 
fore leaving us. 

" Now that's interesting,** said Raffles, 
as soon as we were alone; "they can 
come in and clean when he is out. What 
if he keeps his swag at the bank? By 
Jove, that's an idea for him! I don't be- 
lieve he's getting rid of it; it's all lying 
low somewhere, if I'm not mistaken, and 
he's not a fool." 

While he spoke he was moving about 
the sitting-room, which was charmingly 
furnished in the antique style, and making 
as many remarks as though he were an 
auctioneer's clerk with an inventory to pre- 
pare and a day to do it in, instead of a 
cracksman who might be surprised in his 
crib at any moment. 

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" Chippendale of sorts, eh. Bunny? Not 
genuine, of course ; but where can you get 
genuine Chippendale now, and who knows 
it when they see it? There's no merit in 
mere antiquity. Yet the way people pose 
on the subject ! If a thing's handsome and 
useful, and good cabinet-making, it's good 
enough for me." 

" Hadn't we better explore the whole 
place?" I suggested nervously. He had 
not even bolted the outer door. Nor would 
he when I called his attention to the 
omission. 

" If Lord Ernest finds his rooms locked 
up he'll raise Cain," said Raffles; "we 
must let him come in and lock up for him- 
self before we corner him. But he won't 
come yet ; if he did it might be awkward, 
for they'd tell him down below what I told 
them. A new staff comes on at midnight. 
I discovered that the other night." 

" Supposing he does come in before ? " 

"Well, he can't have us turned out 
without first seeing who we are, and he 
won't try it on when I've had one word 
with him. Unless my suspicions are un- 
founded, I mean." 

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" Isn't it about time to test them? '' 

" My good Bunny, what do you suppose 
I've been doing all this while? He keeps 
nothing in here. There isn't a lock to the 
Chippendale that you couldn't pick with a 
penknife, and not a loose board in the 
floor, for I was treading for one before the 
boy left us. Chimney's no use in a place 
like this where they keep them swept for 
you. Yes, I'm quite ready to try his bed- 
room." 

There was but a bath-room besides ; no 
kitchen, no servant's room; neither are 
necessary in King John's Mansions. I 
thought it as well to put my head inside 
the bath-room while Raffles went into the 
bedroom, for I was tormented by the hor- 
rible idea that the man might all this time 
be concealed somewhere in the flat. But 
the bath-room blazed void in the electric 
light. I found Raffles hanging out of the 
starry square which was the bedroom win- 
dow, for the room was still in darkness. 
I felt for the switch at the door. 

" Put it out again ! " said Raffles fiercely. 
He rose from the sill, drew blind and cur- 
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tains carefully, then switched on the light 
himself. It fell upon a face creased more 
in pity than in anger, and Raffles only 
shook his head as I hung mine. 

"It's all right, old boy," said he; "but 
corridors have windows too, and servants 
have eyes ; and you and I are supposed to 
be in the other room, not in this. But 
cheer up, Bunny 1 This is the room ; look 
at the extra bolt on the door; he's had 
that put on, and there's an iron ladder to 
his window in case of fire ! Way of escape 
ready against the hour of need; he's a 
better man than I thought him. Bunny, 
after alL But you may bet your bottom 
dollar that if there's any boodle in the flat 
it's in this room." 

Yet the room was very lightly fur- 
nished; and nothing was locked. We 
looked everywhere, but we looked in vain. 
The wardrobe was filled with hanging coats 
and trousers in a press, the drawers with 
the softest silk and finest linen. It was a 
camp-bedstead that would not have unset- 
tled an anchorite; there was no place for 
treasure there. I looked up the chimney, 
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but Rafiks told me not to be a fool, and 
asked if I ever listened to what he said. 
There was no question about his temper 
now. I never knew him in a worse. 

"Then he has got it in the bank," he 
growled. " I'll swear I'm not mistaken in 
my man ! " 

I had the tact not to differ with him 
there. But I could not help suggesting 
that now was our time to remedy any mis- 
take we might have made. We were on 
the right side of midnight still. 

" Then we stultify ourselves downstairs,'* 
said Raffles. "No, I'll be shot if I do! 
He may come in with the Kirkleatham 
diamonds ! You do what you like. Bunny, 
but I don't budge." 

" I certainly sha'n't leave you," I re- 
torted, " to be knocked into the middle of 
next week by a better man than yourself.'* 

I had borrowed his own tone, and^ he 
did not like it. They never do. I thought 
for a moment that Raffles was going to 
strike me — for the first and last time in his 
life. He could if he liked. My blood was 
up. I was ready to send him to the devil. 
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And I emphasised my oflFence by nodding 
and shrugging toward a pair of very large 
Indian clubs that stood in the fender, on 
either side of the chimney up which I had 
presumed to glance. 

In an instant Raffles had seized the 
clubs, and was whirling them about his 
grey head in a mixture of childish pique 
and puerile bravado which I should have 
thought him altogether above. And sud- 
denly as I watched him his face changed, 
softened, lit up, and he swung the clubs 
gently down upon the bed. 

"They're not heavy enough for their 
size," said he rapidly ; " and I'll take my 
oath they're not the same weight ! " 

He shook one club after the other, with 
both hands, close to his ear; then he ex- 
amined their butt-ends under the electric 
light. I saw what he suspected now, and 
caught the contagion of his suppressed 
excitement. Neither of us spoke. But 
Raffles had taken out the portable tool- 
box that he called a knife, and always car- 
ried, and as he opened the gimlet he 
handed me the club he held. Instinctively 
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I tucked the small end under my arm, ancl 
presented the other to Raffles. 

"Hold him tight," he whispered, smil- 
ing. " He's not only a better man than^^I 
thought him. Bunny ; he's hit upon a bet- 
ter dodge than ever I did, of its kind. 
Only I should have weighted them evenly 
— ^to a hair." 

He had screwed the gimlet into the cir- 
cular butt, close to the edge, and now we 
were wrenching in opposite directions. 
For a moment or more nothing happened. 
Then all at once something gave, and Raf- 
fles swore an oath as soft as any prayer. 
And for the minute after that his hand 
went round and round with the gimlet, as 
though he were grinding a piano-organ, 
while the end wormed slowly out on its 
delicate thread of fine hard wood. 

The clubs were as hollow as drinking- 
horns, the pair of them, for we went from 
one to the other without pausing to undo 
the padded packets that poured out upon 
the bed. These were deliciously heavy to 
the hand, yet thickly swathed in cotton- 
wool, so that some stuck together, retain- 
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Raffles 

ing the shape of the cavity, as though they 
had been run out of a mould. And when 
we did open them — ^but let Raffles speak. 

He had deputed me to screw in the ends 
of the clubs, and to replace the latter in 
the fender where we had found them. 
When I had done the counterpane was 
glittering with diamonds where it was not 
shimmering with pearls. 

" If this isn't the tiara that Lady May 
was married in," said Raffles, "and that 
disappeared out of the room she changed 
in, while it rained confetti on the steps, 
I'll present it to her instead of the one 
she lost. ... It was stupid to keep 
these old gold spoons, valuable as they are ; 
they made the difference in the weight . . . 
Here we have probably the Kenworthy 
diamonds ... I don't know the his- 
tory of these pearls . . . This looks like 
one family of rings — ^left on the basin- 
stand, perhaps — alas, poor lady! And 
that's the lot." 

Our eyes met across the bed. 

"What's it -all worth?" I asked, 
hoarsely. 

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" Impossible to say. But more than all 
we ever took in all our lives. That 111 
swear to." 

" More than all " 

My tongue swelled with the thought. 

" But it'll take some turning into cash, 
old chap!" 

" And — must it be a partnership ? " I 
asked, finding a lugubrious voice at length. 

" Partnership be damned ! " cried RafHes, 
heartily. " Let's get out quicker than we 
tame in." 

We pocketed the things between us, 
cotton-wool and all, not because we want- 
ed the latter, but to remove all immediate 
traces of our really meritorious deed. 

"The sinner won't dare to say a word 
when he does find out," remarked Raffles 
of Lord Ernest ; " but that's no reason why 
he should find out before he must. Every- 
thing's straight in here, I think ; no, bet- 
ter leave the window open as it was, and 
the blind up. Now out with the light. 
One peep at the other, room. That's all 
right, too. Out with the passage light. 

Bunny, while I open " 

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Raffles 

His words died away in a whisper. A 
key was fumbling at the lock outside. 

" Out with it — out with it ! " whispered 
baffles in an agony; and as I obeyed he 
picked me off my feet and swung me bod- 
ily but silently into the bedroom, just as 
the outer door opened, and a masterful 
step strode in. 

The next five were horrible minutes. 
We heard the apostle of Rational Drink 
unlock one of the deep drawers in his 
antique sideboard, and sounds followed 
suspiciously like the splash of spirits and 
the steady stream from a siphon. Never 
before or since did I experience such a 
thirst as assailed me at that moment, nor 
do I believe that many tropical explorers 
have known its equal. But I had RafHes 
with me, and his hand was as steady and 
as cool as the hand of a trained nurse. 
That I know because he turned up the 
collar of my overcoat for me, for some 
reason, and buttoned it at the throat. I 
afterwards found that he had done the 
same to his own, but I did not hear him 
doing it. The one thing I heard in the 
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bedroom was a tiny metallic click, muffled 
and deadened in his overcoat pocket, and 
it not only removed my last tremor, but 
strung me to a higher pitch of excitement 
than ever. Yet I had then no conception 
of the game that Raffles was deciding to 
play, and that I was to play with him in 
another minute. 

It cannot have been longer before Lord 
Ernest came into his bedroom. Heavens, 
but my heart had not forgotten how to 
thump ! We were standing near the door, 
and I could swear he touched me; then 
his boots creaked, there was a rattle in the 
fender — ^and Raffles switched on the light. 

Lord Ernest Belville crouched in its 
glare with one Indian club held by the 
end, like a footman with a stolen bottle. 
A good-looking, well-built, iron-grey, iron- 
jawed man ; but a fool and a weakling at 
that moment, if he had never been either 
before. 

"Lord Ernest Belville," said Raffles, 

"it's no use. This is a loaded revolver, 

and if you force me I shall use it on you 

as I would on any other desperate criminal. 

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Raffles 

I am here to arrest you for a series of 
robberies at the Duke of Dorchester's, Sir 
John Kenworthy's, and other noblemen's 
and gentlemen's houses during the present 
season. You'd better drop what you've 
got in your hand. It's empty." 

Lord Ernest lifted the club an inch or 
two, and with it his eyebrows— and after 
it his stalwart frame as the club crashed 
back into the fender. And as he stood at 
his full height, a courteous but ironic smile 
under the cropped moustache, he looked 
what he was, criminal or not. 

"Scotland Yard?" said he. 

" That's our affair, my lord.'* 

" I didn't think they'd got it in them," 
said Lord Ernest. " Now I recognise you. 
You're my interviewer. No, I didn't think 
any of you fellows had got all that in you. 
Come into the other room, and I'll show 
you something else. Oh, keep me covered 
by all means. But look at this ! " 

On the antique sideboard, their size 
doubled by reflection in the polished ma- 
hogany, lay a coruscating cluster of pre- 
cious stones, that fell in festoons about 
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Lord Ernest's fingers as he handed them 
to Raffles with scarcely a shrug. 

"The Kirkleatham diamonds," said he. 
" Better add 'em to the bag." 

Raffles did so without a smile ; with his 
overcoat buttoned up to the chin, his tall 
hat pressed down to his eyes, and between 
the two his incisive features and his keen, 
stem glance, he looked the ideal detective 
of fiction and the stage. What / looked 
God knows, but I did my best to glower 
and show my teeth at his side. I had 
thrown myself into the game, and it was 
obviously a winning one. 

"Wouldn't take a share, I suppose?" 
Lord Ernest said casually. 

Raffles did not condescend to reply. I 
rolled back my lips like a bull-pup. 

" Then a drink, at least ! " 

My mouth watered, but Raffles shook 
his head impatiently. 

" We must be going, my lord, and you 
will have to come with us." 

I wondered what in the world we should 
do with him when we had got him. 

" Give me time to put some things to- 
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gether? Pair of pajamas and tooth-brusH, 
don't you know ? " 

" I cannot give you many minutes, my 
lord, but I don't want to cause a disturb- 
ance here, so I'll tell them to call a cab 
it you like. But I shall be back in a mln- 
ute^ and you must be ready in five. Here, 
inspector, you'd better keep this while I 
am gone." 

And I was left alone with that dangerous 
criminal! Raffles nipped my arm as he 
handed me the revolver, but I got small 
comfort out of that. 

" ' Sea-green Incorruptible ? ' " inquired 
Lord Ernest as we stood face to face. 

" You don't corrupt me," I replied 
through naked teeth. 

"Then come into my room. I'll lead 
the way. Think you can hit me if I mis- 
behave ? " 

I put the bed between us without a 
second's delay. My prisoner flung a suit- 
case upon it, and tossed things into it 
with a dejected air; suddenly, as he was 
fitting them in, without raising his head 
(which I was watching), his right hand 
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closed over the barrel with which I cov- 
ered him. 

"You'd better not shoot," he said, a 
knee upon his side of the bed ; " if you do 
it may be as bad for you as it will be for 
me!" 

I tried to wrest the revolver from him. 

" I will if you force me," I hissed. 

"You'd better not," he repeated, smil- 
ing; and now I saw that if I did I should 
only shoot into the bed or my own legs. 
His hand was on the top of mine, bending 
it down, and the revolver with it. The 
strength of it was as the strength of ten 
of mine ; and now both his knees were on 
the bed; and suddenly I saw his other 
hand, doubled into a fist, coming up slowly 
over the suit-case. 

"Help!" I called feebly. 

" Help, forsooth 1 I begin to believe you 
are from the Yard," he said — and his 
upper-cut came with the " yard." It caught 
me under the chin. It lifted me off my 
legs. I have a dim recollection of the 
crash that I made in falling. 

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III 

Raffles was standing over me when I 
recovered consciousness. I lay stretched 
upon the bed across which that black- 
guard Belville had struck his knavish 
blow. The suit-case was on the floor, but 
its dastardly owner had disappeared. 

" Is he gone? " was my first faint ques- 
tion. 

" Thank God you're not, anyway ! " re- 
plied Raffles, with what struck me then as 
mere flippancy. I managed to raise my- 
self upon one elbow. 

"I meant Lord Ernest Belville," said I 
with dignity. "Are you quite sure that 
he's cleared out?" 

Raffles waved a hand towards the win- 
dow, which stood wide open to the sum- 
mer stars. 

" Of course," said he, " and by the route 
I intended him to take; he's gone by the 
iron ladder, as I hoped he would. What 
on earth should we have done with him? 
My poor dear Bunny, I thought you'd 
take a bribe ! But it's really more convinc- 
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ing as it is, and just as well for Lord Er- 
nest to be convinced for the time being." 

" Are you sure he is ? " I questioned, as 
I found a rather shaky pair of legs. 

" Of course ! " cried Raffles again, in the 
tone to make one blush for the least mis- 
giving on the point. " Not that it matters 
one bit," he added, airily, "for we have 
him either way ; and when he does tumble 
to it, as he may any minute, he won't dare 
to open his mouth." 

" Then the sooner we clear out the bet- 
ter," said I, but I looked askance at the 
open window, for my head was spinning 
still. 

"When you feel up to it," retumed 
Raffles, " we shall stroll out, and I shall do 
myself the honour of ringing for the lift. 
The force of habit is too strong in you, 
Bunny. I shall shut the window and leave 
everything exactly as we found it. Lord 
Ernest will probably tumble before he is 
badly missed ; and then he may come back 
to put salt on us; but I should like to 
know what he can do even if he succeeds ! 
Come, Bunny, pull yourself together, and 
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you'll be a different man when you're in 
the open air." 

And for a while I felt one, such was my 
relief at getting out of those infernal man- 
sions with unfettered wrists ; this we man- 
aged easily enough; but once more Raf- 
fles's performance of a small part was no 
less perfect than his more ambitious work 
upstairs, and something of the successful 
artist's elation possessed him as we walked 
arm-in-arm across St. James's Park. It 
was long since I had known him so pleased 
with himself, and only too long since he 
had had such reason. 

" I don't think I ever had a brighter 
idea in my life," he said ; " never thought 
of it till he was in the next room ; never 
dreamt of its coming off so ideally even 
then, and didn't much care, because we 
had him all ways up. I'm only sorry you 
let him knock you out. I was waiting out- 
side the door all the time, and it made me 
sick to hear it. But I once broke my own 
head, Bunny, if you remember, and not in 
half such an excellent cause ! " 

RafHes touched all his pockets in his 
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turn^ the pockets that contained a small 
fortune apiece, and he smiled in my face as 
we crossed the lighted avenues of the Mall. 
Next moment he was hailing a hansom — 
for I suppose I was still pretty pale — and 
not a word would he let me speak until we 
had alighted as near as was prudent to the 
flat. 

"What a brute I've been, Bunny!" he 
whispered then; "but you take half the 
swag, old boy, and right well you've , 
earned it. No, we'll go in by the wrong 
door and over the roof; it's too late for 
old Theobald to be still at the play, and 
too early for him to be safely in his cups." 

So we climbed the many stairs with cat- 
like stealth, and like cats crept out upon 
the grimy leads. But to-night they were 
no blacker than their canopy of sky; not 
a chimney-stack stood out against the star- 
less night; one had to feel one's way in 
order to avoid tripping over the low para- 
pets of the L-shaped wells that ran from 
roof to basement to light the inner rooms. 
One of these wells was spanned by a 
flimsy bridge with iron handrails that felt 
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RafRes 

warm to the touch as Raffles led the way 
across ; a hotter and a closer night I have 
never known. 

" The flat will be like an oven," I grum- 
bled, at the head of our own staircase. 

" Then we won't go down," said Raffles, 
promptly ; " well slack it up here for a bit 
instead. No, Bunny, you stay where you 
are! I'll fetch you a drink and a deck- 
chair, and you- shan't come down till you 
feel more fit." 

And I let him have his way, I will not 
say as usual, for I had even less than my 
normal power of resistance that night. 
That villainous upper-cut! My head still 
sang and throbbed, as I seated myself on 
one of the aforesaid parapets, and buried 
it in my hot hands. Nor was the night 
one to dispel a headache; there was dis- 
tinct thunder in the air. Thus I sat in a 
heap, and brooded over my misadventure, 
a pretty figure of a subordinate villain, un- 
til the step came for which I waited ; and 
it never struck me that it came from the 
wrong direction. 

** You have been quick," said I, simply. 
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, To Catch a Thief 

"Yes," hissed a voice I recognised; 
" and youVe got to be quicker still ! Here, 
out with your wrists; no, one at a time; 
and if you utter a syllable you're a dead 
man/' 

It was Lord Ernest BelviUe; his close- 
cropped, iron-grey moustache gleamed 
through the darkness, drawn up over his 
set teeth. In his hand glittered a pair of 
handcuffs, and before I knew it one had 
snapped its jaws about my right wrist. 

" Now come this way," said Lord Er- 
nest, showing me a revolver also, *' and 
wait for your friend. And, recollect, a 
single syllable of warning will be your 
death!" 

With that the ruffian led me to the very 
bridge I had just crossed at RafHes's heels, 
and handcuffed me to the iron rail mid- 
way across the chasm. It no longer felt 
warm to my touch, but icy as the blood in 
all my veins. 

So this high-born hypocrite had beaten 

us at our game and his, and RafHes 

had met his match at last! That was 

the most intolerable thought, that Raffles 

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should be down in the flat on my account, 
and that I could not warn him of his im- 
pending fate; for how was it possible 
without making such an outcry as should 
bring the mansions about our ears ? And 
there I shivered on that wretched plank, 
chained like Andromeda to the rock, with 
a black infinity above and below ; and be- 
fore my eyes, no\/ grown familiar with the 
peculiar darkness, stood Lord Ernest Bel- 
ville, waiting for Raffles to emerge with 
full hands and unsuspecting heart ! Taken 
so horribly unawares, even Raffles must 
fall an easy prey to a desperado in resource 
and courage scarcely second to himself, 
but one whom he had fatally underrated 
from the beginning. Not that I paused to 
think how the thing had happened; my 
one concern was for what was to happen 
next. 

And what did happen was worse than 
my worst foreboding, for first a light came 
flickering into the sort of companion-hatch 
at the head of the stairs, and finally Raffles 
— in his shirt-sJeeves ! He was not only 
carrying a candle to put the finishing touch 
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to him as a target ; he had dispensed with 
coat and waistcoat downstairs, and was at 
once full-handed and unarmed. 

"Where are you, old chap?" he cried 
softly, himself blinded by the light he car- 
ried; and he advanced a couple of steps 
towards Belville. " This isn't you, is it ? " 

And Raffles stopped, his candle held on 
high, a folding chair under the other arm. 

" No, I am not your friend," replied 
Lord Ernest, easily ; " but kindly remain 
standing exactly where you are, and don't 
lower that candle an inch, unless you want 
your brains blown into the street." 

Raffles said never a word, but for a 
moment did as he was bid; and the un- 
shaken flame of the candle was testimony 
alike to the stillness of the night and to 
the finest set of nerves in Europe. Then, 
to my horror, he coolly stooped, placing 
candle and chair on the leads, and his 
hands in his pockets, as though it were but 
a pop-g^n that covered him. 

" Why didn't you shoot ? " he asked in- 
solently as he rose. " Frightened of the 
noise? I should be, too, with an old- 
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Raffles 

jMittern machine like that. All very well 
for service in the field — ^but on the house- 
tops at dead of night ! " 

"I shall shoot, however," replied Lord 
Ernest, as quietly in his turn, and with less 
insolence, "and chance the noise, unless 
you instantly restore my property. I am 
glad you don't dispute the last word," he 
continued after a slight pause. " There is 
no keener honour than that which subsists, 
or ought to subsist, among thieves ; and I 
need hardly say that I soon spotted you 
as one of the fraternity. Not in the be- 
ginning, mind you! For the moment I 
did think you were one of these smart de- 
tectives jumped to life from some sixpenny 
magazine ; but to preserve the illusion you 
ought to provide yourself with a worthier 
lieutenant. It was he who gave your show 
away," chuckled the wretch, dropping for 
a moment the affected style of speech 
which seemed intended to enchance our 
humiliation; "smart detectives don't go 
about with little innocents to assist them. 
lYou needn't be anxious about him, by the 
way ; it wasn't necessary to pitch him into 
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the street; he is to be seen though not 
heard, if you look in the right direction. 
Nor must you put all the blame upon your 
friend; it was not he, but you, who made 
so sure that I had got out by the window. 
You see, I was in my bath-room all the 
time — with the door open." 

"The bath-room, eh?*' Raffles echoed 
with professional interest. " And you fol- 
lowed us on foot across the park ? " 

" Of course." 

"And then in a cab?" 

" And afterwards on foot once more." 

"The simplest skeleton would let you 
in down below." 

I saw the lower half of Lord Ernest's 
face grinning in the light of the candle det 
between them on the ground. 

"You follow every move," said he; 
" there can be no doubt you are one of the 
fraternity; and I shouldn't wonder if we 
had formed our style upon the same model. 
Ever know A. J. Raffles? " 

The abrupt question took my breath 
away ; but Raffles himself did not lose an 
instant over his answer. 
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Raffles 

" Intimately," said he. 

" That accounts for you, then,'* laughed 
Lord Ernest, ** as it does for me, though 
I never had the honour of the master's 
acquaintance. Nor is it for me to say 
which is the worthier disciple. Perhaps, 
however, now that your friend is hand- 
cuffed in mid-air, and you yourself are at 
my mercy, you will concede me some 
little temporary advantage ? " 

And his face split in another grin from 
the cropped moustache downward, as I 
saw no longer by candle-light, but by a 
flash of lightning which tore the sky in 
two before RafHes could reply. 

" You have the bulge at present," ad- 
mitted Raffles ; " but you have still to lay 
hands upon your, ox our, ill-gotten goods. 
To shoot me is not necessarily to do so; 
to bring either one of us to a violent end 
is only to court a yet more violent and in- 
finitely more disgraceful one for yourself. 
Family considerations alone should rule 
that risk out of your game. Now, an hour 
•or two ago, when the exact opposite " 

The remainder of Raffles's speech was 
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To Catch a Thief 

drowned from my ears by the belated 
crash of thunder which the lightning had 
foretold. So loud, however, was the crash 
when it came, that the storm was evidently 
approaching us at a high velocity; yet 
as the last echo riunbled away, I heard 
RafSes talking as though he had never 
stopped. 

" You oflfered us a share," he was say- 
ing; " unless you mean to murder us both 
in cold blood, it will be worth your while 
to repeat that offer. We should be dan- 
gerous enemies ; you had far better mdce 
the best of us as friends." 

^' Lead the way down to your flat," said 
Lord Ernest, with a flourish of his service 
revolver, " and perhaps we may talk about 
it. It is for me to make the terms, I 
imagine, and in the first place I am not 
going to get wet to the skin up here." 

The rain was beginning in great drops, 
even as he spoke, and by a second flash of 
lightning I saw Raffles pointing to me. 

" But what about my friend? " said he. 

And then came the second peal. 

" Oh, he's all right," the great brute re- 
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Raffles 

plied ; " do him good ! You don't catch 
me letting myself in for two to one ! " 

"You will find it equally difficult," re- 
joined Raffles, " to induce me to leave my 
friend to the mercy of a night like this. 
He has not recovered from the blow you 
struck him in your own rooms. I am not 
such a fool as to blame you for that, but 
you are a worse sportsman than I take 
you for if you think of leaving him where 
he is. If he stays, however, so do I." 

And, just as it ceased, Raffles's voice 
seemed distinctly nearer to me ; but in the 
darkness and the rain, which ^as now as 
heavy as hail, I could see nothing clearly. 
The rain had already extinguished the can- 
dle. I heard an oath from Belville, a laugh 
from Raffles, and for a second that was all. 
Raffles was coming to me, and the other 
could not even see to fire; that was all I 
knew in the pitchy interval of invisible rain 
before the next crash and the next flash. 

And then I 

This time they came together, and not 
till my dying hour shall I forget the sight 
that the lightning lit and the thunder 
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To Catch a Thief 

applauded. Raffles was on one of the 
parapets of the gulf that my foot-bridge 
spanned, and in the sudden illumination he 
stepped across it as one might across a 
garden path. The width was scarcely 
greater, but the depth! In the sudden 
flare I saw to the concrete bottom of the 
well, and it looked no larger than the hol- 
low of my hand. Rafiles was laughing in 
my ear; he had the iron railing fast; it 
was between us, but his foothold was as 
secure as mine. Lord Ernest Belville, on 
the contrary, was the fifth of a second late 
for the light, and half a foot short in his 
spring. Something struck our plank bridge 
so hard as to set it quivering like a hafp- 
string; there was half a gasp and half a 
sob in mid-air beneath our feet ; and then 
a sound far below that I prefer not to de- 
scribe. I am not sure that I could hit 
upon the perfect simile; it is more than 
enough for me that I can hear it still. And 
with that sickening sound came the loud- 
est clap of thunder yet, and a great white 
glare that showed us our enemy's body 
far below, with one white hand spread like 
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RafHes 

a starfish, but the head of him mercifully; 
twisted underneath. 

" It was his own fault, Bunny. Poor 
devil! May he and all of us be forgiven; 
but pull yourself together for your ow» 
sake. Well, you can't fall; stay where 
you are a njinute." 

I remember the uproar of the elements 
while Raffles was gone; no other sound 
mingled with it; not the opening of a 
single window, not the uplifting of a single 
voice. Then came Raffles with soap and 
water, and the gyve was wheedled from 
one wrist, as you withdraw a ring for 
wluch the finger has growa too large. Of 
the rest, I only remember shivering tiU 
morning in a pztcb-dark flat, whose invalid 
occupier was for once the nurse,, and I Ms 
patient. 

And that is the true ending of the epi* 
sode in which we two set ourselves to 
catch one of our own kidney, albeit in an- 
other place I have shirked the whole truth. 
It is not a grateful task to show Raffles as 
completely at fault as he really was on that 
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To Catch a Thief 

faction from recounting my own twofold 
humiliation, or from having assisted never 
so indirectly in the death of a not uncon- 
genial sinner. The truth, however, has 
after all a merit of its own, and the great 
kinsfolk of poor Lord Ernest have but lit- 
tle to lose by its divulgence. It would 
seem that they knew more of the real char- 
acter of the apostle of Rational Drink 
than was known at Exeter Hall. The 
tragedy was indeed hushed up, as tragedies 
only are when they occur in such circles. 
But the rumour that did get abroad, as to 
the class of enterprise which the poor 
scamp was pursuing when he met his 
death, cannot be too soon exploded, since 
it breathed upcm the fair fame of some of 
the most respectable flats in Kensington. 



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AN OLD FLAME 

I 

THE square shall be nameless, but if 
you drive due west from Piccadilly the 
cabman will eventually find it on his left, 
and he ought to thank you for two shil- 
lings. It is not a fashionable square, but 
there are few with a finer garden, while 
the studios on the south side lend distinc- 
tion of another sort. The houses, however, 
are small and dingy, and about the last to 
attract the expert practitioner in search of 
a crib. Heaven knows it was with no such 
thought I trailed RafHes thither, one un- 
lucky evening at the latter end of that 
same season, when Dr. Theobald had at 
la«t insisted upon the bath-chair which I 
had foreseen in the beginning. Trees 
whispered in the green garden aforesaid, 
and the cool smooth lawns looked so in- 
viting that I wondered whether some phil- 
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An Old Flame 

anthropic resident could not be induced to 
lend us the key. But Raffles would not 
listen to the suggestion, when I stopped to 
make it, and what was worse, I found him 
looking wistfully at the little houses in- 
stead. 

"Such balconies, Bunny! A leg up, 
and there you would be ! " 

I expressed a conviction that there would 
be nothing worth taking in the square, but 
took care to have him under way again as 
I spoke. 

"I daresay you're right," sighed Raf- 
fles. " Rings and watches, I suppose, but 
it would be hard luck to take them from 
people who live in houses like these. I 
don't know, though. Here's one with an 
extra story. Stop, Bunny; if you don't 
stop I'll hold on to the railings! This is 
a good house; look at the knocker and 
the electric bell. They've had that put in. 
There's some money here, my rabbit! I 
dare bet there's a silver-table in the draw- 
ing-room ; and the windows are wide open. 
Electric light, too, by Jove ! " 

Since stop I must, I had done so on the 
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Raffles 

other side of the foad, in the shadow of 
the leafy palings, and as Raffles spoke the 
ground-floor windows opposite had flown 
alight, showing as pretty a Utde dinner- 
table as one could wish to see, with a man 
at his wine at the far end, and the back of 
a lady in evening dress toward us. It 
was like a lantern-picture thrown upon a 
screen. There were only the pair of them, 
but the table was brilliant with silver and 
gay with flowers, and the maid waited with 
the indefinable air of a good servant. It 
certainly seemed a good house. 

" She's going to let down the blind ! '* 
whispered Rafiles, in high excitement. 
" No, confound them, they've told her not 
to. Mark down her necklace, Bunny, and 
invoice his stud. What a brute he looks I 
But I like the table, and that's her show. 
She has the taste; but he must have 
money. See the festive picture over the 
sideboard? Looks to me like a Jacques 
Saillard. But that silver-table would be 
good enough for me." 

" Get on," said I. " You're in a bath- 
chair." 

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" But the whole square's at dinner I We 
should have the ball at our feet. It 
wouldn't take two twos ! " 

" With those blinds up, and the cook in 
the kitchen underneath ? " 

He nodded, leaning forward in the chair, 
his hands upon the wraps about his legs. 

"You must be mad," said I, and got 
back to my handles with the word, but 
when I tugged the chair ran light. 

" Keep an eye on the rug,'* came in a 
whisper from tbe middle of the road ; and 
there stood my invalid, his pale face in a 
quiver of pure mischief, yet set with his 
insane resolve. " I'm only gdng to see 
whether that woman has a silver-table " 

" We don't want it " 

** It won't take a minute ^*' 

" It's madness, madness " 

" Then don't you wait f ** 

It was like him to leave me with that, 
and this time I had taken him at his last 
word, had not my own given me an idea. 
Mad I had called him, and mad I could 
declare him upon oath if necessary. It 
was not as though the thing had happened 
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Raffles 

far from home. They could learn all about 
us at the nearest mansions. I referred 
them to Dr. Theobald; this was a Mr. 
Maturin, one of his patients, and I was his 
keeper, and he had never given me the 
slip before. I heard myself making* these 
explanations on the doorstep, and point- 
ing to the deserted bath-chair as the proof, 
while the pretty parlour-maid ran for the 
police. It would be a more serious matter 
for me than for my charge. I should lose 
my place. No, he had never done such a 
thing before, and I would answer for it 
that he never should again. 

I saw myself conducting Raffles back to 
his chair, with a firm hand and a stem 
tongue. I heard him thanking me in whis- 
pers on the way home. It would be the 
first tight place I had ever got him out 
of, and I was quite anxious for him to get 
into it, so sure was I of every move. My 
whole position had altered in the few sec- 
onds that it took me to follow this illu- 
minating train of ideas; it was now so 
strong that I could watch Raffles without 
much anxiety. And he was worth watch- 
ing. 

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He had stepped boldly but softly to the 
front door, and there he was still waiting, 
ready ta ring if the door opened or a face 
appeared in the area, and doubtless to pre- 
tend that he had rung already. But he 
had not to ring at all ; and suddenly I saw 
his foot in the letter-box, his left hand on 
the lintel overhead. It was thrilling, even 
to a hardened accomplice with an explana- 
tion up his sleeve ! A tight grip with that 
left hand of his, as he leant backward with 
all his weight upon those five fingers; a 
right arm stretched outward and upward 
to its last inch; and the base of the low, 
projecting balcony was safely caught. 

I looked down and took breath. The 
maid was removing the crumbs in the 
lighted room, and the square was empty 
as before. What a blessing it was the end 
of the season! Many of the houses re- 
mained in darkness. I looked up again, 
and Raffles was drawing his left leg over 
the balcony railing. In another moment 
he had disappeared through one of the 
French windows which opened upon the 
balcony, and in yet another he had 
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Raffles 

switched on the electric light within. This 
was bad enough, for now I, at least, couM 
see everything he did; but the crowning 
folly was still to come. There was no 
point in it; the mad thing was done for 
my benefit, as I knew at once and he 
afterwards confessed; but the lunatic re- 
appeared on the balcony, bowing like a 
mountebank — in his crape mask ! 

I set off with the empty chair, but I 
came back. I could not desert old RafHes, 
even when I would, but must try to ex- 
plain away his mask as well, if he had not 
the sense to take it off in time. It woukl 
be difficult, but burglaries are not usually 
committed from a bath-chair, and for the 
rest I put my faith in Dr. Theobald. 
Meanwhile RafHes had at least withdrawn 
from the balcony, and now I could only 
see his head as he peered into a cabinet 
at the other side of the room. It was like 
the opera of Atda, in which two scenes 
are enacted simultaneously, one in the 
dtmgeon below, the other in the temple 
above. In the same fashion my attention 
now became divided between the picture of 
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Raffles moving stealthily about the upper 
room, and that of the husband and wife 
at taUe underneath. And all at once, as 
the man replenished his glass with a shrug 
of the shoulders, the woman pushed back 
her chair and sailed to the door. 

Raffles was standing before the fireplace 
upstairs. He had taken one of the framed 
photographs from the chimney-piece, and 
was scanning it at suicidal length through 
the eye-holes in the hideous mask which 
he still wore. He would need it after all. 
The lady had left the room below, opening 
and shutting the door for herself; the man 
was filling his glass once more. I would 
have shrieked my warning to Raffles, so 
fatally engrossed overhead, but at this mo- 
ment (of all others) a constable (of all 
men) was marching sedately down our side 
of the square. There was nothing for it 
but to turn a melancholy eye upon the 
bath-chair, and to ask the constable the 
time. I was evidently to be kept there all 
night, I remarked, and only realised with 
the words that they disposed of my other 
explanations before they were uttered. It 
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Raffles 

was a horrible moment for such a dis- 
covery. Fortunately the enemy was on 
the pavement, from which he could scarce- 
ly have seen more than the drawing-room 
ceiling, had he looked; but he was not 
many houses distant when a door opened 
and a woman gasped so that I heard both 
across the road. And never shall I forget 
the subsequent tableaux in the lighted 
room behind the low balcony and the 
French windows. 

Raffles stood confronted by a dark and 
handsome woman whose profile, as I saw 
it first in the electric light, is cut like a 
cameo in my memory. It had the undevi- 
ating line of brow and nose, the short 
upper lip, the perfect chin, that are united 
in marble oftener than in the flesh ; and like 
marble she stood, or rather like some beau- 
tiful pale bronze ; for that was her colour- 
ing, and she lost none of it that I could 
see, neither trembled ; but her bosom rose 
and fell, and that was all. So she stood 
without flinching before a masked ruffian, 
who, I felt, would be the first to appreciate 
her courage; to me it was so superb that 
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I could think of it in this way even then, 
and marvel how Raffles himself could stand 
unabashed before so brave a figure. He 
had not to do so long. The woman 
scorned him, and he stood unmoved, a 
framed photograph still in his hand. Then, 
with a quick, determined movement she 
turned, not to the door or to the bell, but 
to the open window by which Raffles had 
entered; and this with that accursed po- 
liceman still in view. So far no word had 
passed between the pair. But at this point 
Raffles said something, I could not hear 
what, but at the sound of his voice the 
woman wheeled. And Raffles was look- 
ing humbly in her face, the crape mask 
snatched from his own. 

"Arthur!" she cried; and that might 
have been heard in the middle of the 
square garden. 

Then they stood gazing at each other, 
neither unmoved any more, and while they 
stood the street-door opened and banged. 
It was the husband leaving the house, a 
fine figure of a man, but a dissipated face, 
and a step even now distinguished by the 
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Raffles 

extreme caution which precedes unsteadi- 
ness. He broke the spell. His wife came 
to the balcony, then looked back into the 
room, and yet again along the road, and 
this time I saw her face. It was the face 
of one glancing indeed from Hyperion to 
a satyr. And then I saw the rings flash, 
as her hand fell gently upon RafHes's arm. 

They disappeared from that window. 
Their heads showed for an instant in the 
next. Then they dipped out of sight, and 
an inner ceiling flashed out under a new 
light; they had gone into the back draw- 
ing-room, beyond my ken. The maid 
came up with coffee, her mistress hastily 
met her at the door, and once more dis- 
appeared. The square was as quiet as 
ever. I remained some minutes where I 
was. Now and then I thought I heard 
their voices in the back drawing-room. I 
was seldom sure. 

My state of mind may be imagined by 
those readers who take an interest in my 
personal' psychology. It does not amuse 
me to look back upon it. But at length I 
had the sense to put myself in RafHes's 
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place. He had been recognised at last, he 
had come to life. Only one person knew 
as yet, but that person was a woman, and 
a woman y/ho had once been fond of him, 
if the human face could speak. Would she 
keep his secret ? Would he tell her where 
he lived ? It was terrible to think we were 
such neighbours, and with the thought that 
it was terrible came a little enlightenment 
as to what could still be done. for the best. 
He would not tell her where he lived. I 
knew him too well for that. He. would 
run for it when he could, and the bath- 
chair and I must not he there to give him 
away. I dragged the infernal vehicle round 
the nearer comer. Then I waited — ^there 
could be no harm in that — and at last he 
came. 

He was walking briskly, so I was right, 
and he had not played the invalid to her; 
yet I heard him cry out with pleasure as 
he turned the corner, and he flung himself 
into the chair with a long-drawn sigh that 
did me good. 

" Well done. Bunny — ^well done I I am 
on my way to Earl's Court, she's capable 
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Raffles 

of following me, but she won't look for me 
in a bath-chair. Home, home, home, and 
not another word till we get there ! " 

Capable of following him? •She over- 
took us before we were past the studios on 
the south side of the square, the woman 
herself, in a hooded opera-cloak. But she 
never gave us a glance, and we saw her 
turn safely in the right direction for Earl's 
Court, and the wrong one for our humble 
mansions. Raffles thanked his gods in a 
voice that trembled, and five minutes later 
we were in the flat. Then for once it was 
Raffles who filled the tumblers and found 
the cigarettes, and for once (and once only 
in all my knowledge of him) did he drain 
his glass at a draught. 

" You didn't see the balcony scene? " he 
asked at length; and they were his first 
words since the woman passed us on his 
track. 

" Do you mean when she came in? " 

" No, when I came down." 

" I didn't." 

" I hope nobody else saw it," said Raf- 
fles devoutly. "I don't say that Romeo 
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and Juliet were brother and sister to us. 
But you might have said so, Bunny 1 " 

He was staring at the carpet with as wry 
a face as lover ever wore. 

" An old flame ? " said I, gently. 

" A married woman," he groaned. 

"So I gathered." 

" But she always was one. Bunny," said 
he, ruefully. "That's the trouble. It 
makes all the difference in the world I " 

I saw the difference, but said I did not 
see how it could make any now. He had 
eluded the lady, after all ; had we not seen 
her off upon a scent as false as scent could 
be? There was occasion for redoubled 
caution in the future, but none for im- 
mediate anxiety. I quoted the bedside 
Theobald, but Raffles did not smile. His 
eyes had been downcast all this time, and 
now, when he raised them, I perceived that 
my comfort had been administered to deaf 
ears. 

" Do you know who she is ? " sstid he. 

" Not from Eve." 

"Jacques Saillard," he said, as though 
now I must know. 

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But the name left me cold and stolid. I 
had heard it, but that was all. It was lam- 
entable ignorance, I am aware, but I had 
specialised in Letters at the expense of 
Art. 

"You must know her pictures," said 
RafHes, patiently; "but I suppose you 
thought she was a man. They would ap- 
peal to you, Bunny ; that festive piece over 
the sideboard was her work. Sometimes 
they risk her at the Academy, sometimes 
they fight shy. She has one of those stu- 
dios in the same square; they used to live 
up near Lord's." 

My mind was busy brightening a dim 
memory of nymphs reflected in woody 
pools. " Of course ! " I exclaimed, and 
added something about " a clever woman.** 
RafHes rose at the phrase. 

" A clever woman ! " he echoed, scorn- 
fully ; " if she were only that I should feel 
safe as houses. Clever women can't forget 
their cleverness, they carry it as badly as 
a boy does his wine, and are about as dan- 
gerous. I don't call Jacques Saillard clever 
outside her art, but neither do I call her a 

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woman at all. She does man's work over 
a man's name, has the will of any ten men 
I ever knew, and I don't mind telling you 
that I fear her more than any person on 
God's earth. I broke with her once," said 
Raffles, grimly, " but I know her. If I had 
been asked to name the one person in 
London by whom I was keenest not to be 
bowled out, I should have named Jacques 
Saillard." 

That he had never before named her to 
me was as characteristic as the reticence 
with which Raffles spoke of their past re- 
lations, and even of their conversation in 
the back drawing-room that evening; it 
was a question of principle with him, and 
one that I like to remember. " Never give 
a woman away. Bunny," he used to say; 
and he said it again to-night, but with a 
heavy cloud upon him, as though his chiv- 
alry was sorely tried. 

" That's all right," said I, " if you're not 
going to be given away yourself." 

" That's just it, Bunny ! That's just " 

The words were out of him, it was too 

late to recall them. I had hit the nail upon 

the head. 

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** So she threatened you/' I said, " did 
she?" 

" I didn't say so," he replied coldly. 

" And she is mated with a clown ! " I 
pursued. 

" How she ever married him," he ad- 
mitted, " is a mystery to me." 

" It always is," said I, the wise man 
for once, and rather enjoying the role. 

"Southernwood?" 

"Spanish." 

" She'll be pestering you to run off with 
her, old chap," said I. 

Raffles was pacing the room. He 
stopped in his stride for half a second. So 
she had begun pestering him already! It 
is wonderful how acute any fool can be in 
the affairs of his friend. But Raffles re- 
sumed his walk without a syllable, and I 
retreated to safer ground. 

"So you sent her to Earl's Court," I 
mused aloud ; and at last he smiled. 

"You'll be interested to hear. Bunny," 
said he, "that I'm now living in Seven 
Dials, and Bill Sykes couldn't hold a farth- 
ing dip to me. Bless you, she had my old 
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police record at her fingers' ends, but it 
was fit to frame compared with the one I 
gave her. I had sunk as low as they dig. 
I divided my nights between the open 
parks and a thieves' kitchen in Seven Dials. 
If I was decently dressed it was because I 
had stolen the suit down the Thames Val- 
ley beat the night before last. I was on 
my way back when first that sleepy square, 
and then her open window, proved too 
much for me. You should have heard me 
beg her to let me push on to the devil in 
my own way ; there I spread myself, for I 
meant every word; but I swore the final 
stage would be a six-foot drop." 

" You did lay it on," said I. 

" It was necessary, and that had its ef- 
fect. She let me go. But at the last mo- 
ment she said she didn't believe I was so 
black as I painted myself, and then there 
was the balcony scene you missed." 

So that was all. I could not help telling 
him that he had got out of it better than 
he deserved for ever getting in. Next mo- 
ment I regretted the remark. 

" If I have got out of it," said Raffles, 

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doubtfully. " We are dreadfully near neighr 
hours, and I can't move in a minute» mtb 
old Theobald taking a grave view of my 
case. I suppose I had better lie low, and 
thank the gods again for putting her off 
the scent for the time being." 

No doubt our conversation was carried 
beyond this point, but it certainly was not 
many minutes later, nor had we left the 
subject, when the electric bell thrilled us 
both to a sudden silence. 

" The doctor ? " I queried, hope fighting 
with my horror. 

" It was a single ring." 

"The last post?" 

" You know he knocks, and it's long 
past his time." 

The electric bell rang again, but now as 
though it never would stop. 

" You go, Bunny," said Raffles, with de- 
cision. His eyes were sparkling. His 
smile was firm. 

"What am I to say?" 

" If it's the lady let her in." 

It was the lady, still in her evening cloak, 
with her fine dark head half-hidden by the 
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hood, and an engaging contempt of ap- 
pearances upon her angry face. She was 
even handsomer than I had thought, and 
her beauty of a bolder type, but she was 
also angler than I had anticipated when I 
came so readily to the door. The passage 
into which it opened was an exceedingly 
narrow one, as I have often said, but I 
never dreamt of barring this woman's way, 
though not a word did she stoop to say to 
me. I was only tod glad to flatten myself 
against the wall, as the rustling fury strode 
past me into the lighted room with the 
open door. 

" So this is your thieves* kitchen ! " she 
cried, in high-pitched scorn. 

I was on the threshold myself, and Raf- 
fles glanced toward me with raised eye- 
brows. 

** I have certainly had better quarters in 
my day," said he, "but you need not call 
them absurd names before my man." 

"^Then send your ' man ' about his busi- 
ness," said Jacques Saillard, with an un- 
pleasant stress upon the word indicated. 

But when the door was shut I heard 
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Raffles 

Raffles assuring her that I knew nothing-, 
that he was a real invalid overcome by a 
sudden mad temptation, and all he had 
told her of his life a lie to hide his where- 
abouts, but all he was telling her now she 
could prove for herself without leaving that 
building. It seemed, however, that she 
had proved it already by going first to the 
porter below stairs. Yet I do not think she 
cared one atom which story was the truth. 
"So you thought I could pass you in 
your chair," she said, "or ever in this 
world again, without hearing from my 
heart that it was you ! " 



II 

"Bunny," said Raffles, "I'm awfully 
sorry, old chap, but you've got to go." 

It was some weeks since the first un- 
timely visitation of Jacques Saillard, but 
there had been many others at all hours of 
the day, while Raffles had been induced to 
pay at least one to her studio in the neigh- 
bouring square. These intrusions he had 
endured at first with an air of humorous 
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resignation which imposed upon me less 
than he imagined. The woman meant 
well, he said, after all, and could be trusted 
to keep his secret loyally. It was plain to 
me, however, that Raffles did not trust her, 
and that his pretence upon the point was a 
deliberate pose to conceal the extent to 
which she had him in her power. Other- 
wise there would have been little point in 
hiding an3^hing from the one person in 
possession of the cardinal secret of his 
identity. But Raffles thought it worth his 
while to hoodwink Jacques Saillard in the 
subsidiary matter of his health, in which 
Dr. Theobald lent him unwitting assist- 
ance, and, as we have seen, to impress 
upon her that I was actually his attendant, 
and as ignorant of his past as the doctor 
himself. " So you're all right, Bunny," he 
had assured me; "she thinks you knew 
nothing the other night. I told you she 
wasn't a clever woman outside her work. 
But hasn't she a will ! " I told Raffles it 
was very considerate of him to keep me 
out of it, but that it seemed to me like 
tying up the bag when the cat had escaped. 
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Raffles 

His reply was an admission that one must 
be on the defensive with such a woman and 
in such a case. Soon after this. Raffles, 
looking" far from well, fell back upon his 
own last line of defence, namely his bed; 
and now, as always in the end, I could see 
some sense in his subtleties, since it was 
comparatively easy for me to turn even 
Jacques Saillard from the door, with Dr. 
Theobald's explicit injunctions, and with 
my own honesty unquestioned. So for a 
day we had peace once more. Then came 
letters, then the doctor again and again, 
and finally my dismissal in the incredible 
words which have necessitated these ex- 
planations. 

" Go ? " I echoed. " Go where ? " 

"It's that ass Theobald," said Raffles. 
" He insists." 

" On my going altogether ? " 

He nodded. 

"And you mean to let him have his 
way?" 

I had no language for my mortification 
and disgust, though neither was as yet 
quite so great as my surprise. I had fore- 

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seen almost every conceivable consequence 
of the mad act which brought all this 
trouble to pass, but a voluntary division 
between Raffles and me had certainly never 
entered my calculations. Nor could I 
think that it had occurred to him before 
our egregious doctor's last visit, this very 
morning. Raffles had looked. irritated as 
he broke the news to me from his pillow, 
and now there was some sympathy in the 
way he sat up in bed, as though he felt the 
thing himself. 

" I am obliged to give in to the fellow," 
said he. " He's saving me from my friend, 
and I'm bound to humour him. But I can 
tell you that we've been arguing about you 
for the last half hour. Bunny. It was no 
use; the idiot has had his knife in you 
from the first; and he wouldn't see me 
through on any other conditions." 

" So he is going to see you through, 
is he?" 

" It tots up to that," said Raffles, look- 
ing at me rather hard. " At all events he 
has come to my rescue for the time being, 
and it's for me to manage the rest. You 
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Raffles 

aon't know what it has been, Bunny, these 
last few weeks ; and gallantry forbids that 
I should tell you even now. But would 
you rather elope against your will, or have 
your continued existence made known to 
the world in general and the police in par- 
ticular? That is practically the problem 
which I have had to solve, and the tempo- 
rary solution was to fall ill. As a matter 
of fact I am ill; and now what do you 
think ? I owe it to you to tell you, Bunny, 
though it goes against the grain. She 
would take me ' to the dear, warm under- 
world, where the sun really shines,' and she 
would * nurse me back to life and love 1 ' 
The artistic temperament is a fearsome 
thing. Bunny, in a woman with the devil's 
own will ! " 

Raffles tore up the letter from which he 
had read these piquant extracts, and lay 
back on the pillows with the tired air of 
the veritable invalid which he seemed able 
to assume at will. But for once he did 
look as though bed was the best place for 
him; and I used the fact as an argument 
for my own retention in defiance of Dr. 

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Theobald. The ?own was full of typhoid, 
I said, and certainly that autumnal scourge 
was in the air. Did he want me to leave 
him at the very moment when he might be 
sickening for a serious illness? 

" You know I don't, my good fellow," 
said RafHes, wearily ; " but Theobald does, 
and I can't afford to go against him now. 
Not that I really care what happens to me 
now that that woman knows I'm in the 
land of the living; she'll let it out, to a 
dead certainty, and at the best there'll be 
a hue and cry, which is the very thing I 
have escaped all these years. Now, what 
I want you to do is to go and take some 
quiet place somewhere, and then let me 
know, so that I may have a port in the 
storm when it breaks." 

" Now you're talking ! " I cried, recov- 
ering my spirits. " I thought you meant 
to go and drop a fellow altogether ! " 

" Exactly the sort of thing you would 
think," rejoined RafHes, with a contempt 
that was welcome enough after my late 
alarm. " No, my dear rabbit, what you've 
got to do is to make a new burrow for us 
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Raffles 

both. Try down the Thames, in some 
qtiiet nook that a literary man would natu- 
rally select. I've often thought that more 
use might be made of a boat, while the 
family are at dinner, than there ever has 
been yet. If Raffles is to come to life, old 
chap, he shall go a-Raffling for all he's 
worth! There's something to be done 
with a bicycle, too. Try Ham Common 
or Roehampton, or some such sleepy hol- 
low a trifle off the line; and say you're 
expecting your brother from the colonies." 
Into this arrangement I entered without 
the slightest hesitation, for we had funds 
enough to carry it out on a comfortable 
scale, and Raffles placed a sufficient share 
at my disposal for the nonce. Moreover, 
I for one was only too glad to seek fresh 
fields and pastures new — a phrase which I 
determined to interpret literally in my 
choice of fresh surroundings. I was tired 
of our submerged life in the poky little flat, 
especially now that we had money enough 
for better things. I myself had of late had 
dark dealings with the receivers, with the 
result that poor Lord Ernest Belville's suc- 
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cesses were now indeed ours. Subsequent 
complications had been the more galling 
on that account, while the wanton way in 
which they had been created was the most 
irritating reflection of all. But it had 
brought its own punishment upon Raffles, 
and I fancied the lesson would prove salu- 
tary when we again settled down. 

" If ever we do, Bunny ! " said he, as I 
took his hand and told him how I was 
already looking forward to the time. 

" But of course we will," I cried, con- 
cealing the resentment at leaving him 
which his tone and his appearance renewed 
in my breast. 

" I'm not so sure of it," he said, gloom- 
ily. " I'm in somebody's clutches, and I've 
got to get out of them first." 

" I'll sit tight until you do." 

" Well," he said, " if you don't see me 
in ten days you never will." 

"Only ten days?" I echoed. "That's 
nothing at all." 

" A lot may happen in ten days," replied 
Raffles, in the same depressing tone, so 
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Rai&es 

held out his hand a second time, and 
dropped mine suddenly after as sudden a 
pressure for farewell. 

I left the flat in considerable dejection 
after all, unable to decide whether Raffles 
was really ill, or only worried as I knew 
him to be. And at the foot of the stairs 
the author of my dismissal, that confounded 
Theobald, flung open his door and waylaid 
me. 

"Are you going?" he demanded. 

The traps in my hands proclaimed that 
I was, but I dropped them at his feet to 
have it out with him then and there. 

" Yes," I answered, fiercely, " thanks to 
you!" 

" Well, my good fellow," he said, his 
full-blooded face lightening and softening 
at the same time, as though a load were 
off his mind, "it's no pleasure to me to 
deprive any man of his billet, but you 
never were a nurse, and you know that as 
well as I do." 

I began to wonder what he meant, and 
how much he did know, and my specula- 
tions kept me silent. " But come in here 
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a moment," he continued, just as I de- 
cided that he knew nothing at all. And 
leading me into his minute consulting- 
room, Dr. Theobald solemnly presented 
me with a sovereign by way of compensa- 
tion, which I pocketed as solemnly, and 
with as much gratitude as if I had not 
fifty of them distributed over my person 
as it was. The good fellow had quite for- 
gotten my social status, about which he 
himself had been so particular at our earli- 
est interview; but he had never accus- 
tomed himself to treat me as a gentleman, 
and I do not suppose he had been improv- 
ing his memory by the tall tumbler which 
I saw him poke behind a photograph- 
frame as we entered. 

"There's one thing I should like to 
know before I go," said I, turning sud- 
denly on the doctor's mat, " and that 
is whether Mr. Maturin is really ill or 
not!" 

I meant, of course, at the present mo- 
ment, but Dr. Theobald braced himself like 
a recruit at the drill-sergeant's voice. 

" Of course he is," he snapped — " so ill 
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Raffles 

as to need a nurse who can nurse, by way 
of a change/' 

With that his door shut in my isLce, and 
I had to go my way, in the dark as to 
whether he had mistaken my meaning, and 
was telling me a lie, or not. 

But for my misgivings upon this point 
I might have extracted some very genuine 
enjo3rment out of the next few days. I had 
decent clothes to my back, with money, as 
I say, in most of the pockets, and more 
freedom to spend it than was possible in 
the constant society of a man whose per- 
sonal liberty depended on a universal sup- 
position that he was dead. Raf&es was as 
bold as ever, and I as fond of him, but 
whereas he would run any risk in a pro- 
fessional exploit, there were many inno- 
cent recreations still open to me which 
would have been sheer madness in him. 
He could not even watch a match, from 
the sixpenny seats, at Lord's Cricket- 
ground, where the Gentlemen were every 
year in a worse way without him. He 
never travelled by rail, and dining out was 
a risk only to be run with some ulterior 
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object in view. In fact, much as it had 
changed, Raffles could no longer show his 
face with perfect impunity in any quarter 
or at any hour. Moreover, after the lesson 
he had now learnt, I foresaw increased 
caution on his part in this respect. But I 
myself was under no such perpetual disad- 
vantage, and, while what was good enough 
for Raffles was quite good enough for me, 
so long as we were together, I saw no 
harm in profiting by the present oppor- 
tunity of " doing myself well." 

Such were my reflections on the way to 
Richmond in a hansom cab. Richmond 
had struck us both as the best centre of 
operations in search of the suburban re- 
treat which Raffles wanted, and by road, 
in a well-appointed, well-selected hansom, 
was certainly the most agreeable way of 
getting there. In a week or ten days 
Raffles was to write to me at the Rich- 
mond post-office, but for at least a week 
I should be " on my own." It was not an 
unpleasant sensation as I leant back in the 
comfortable hansom, and rather to one 
side, in order to have a good look at my* 
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self in the bevelled mirror that is almost 
as great an improvement in these vehicles 
as the rubber tires. Really I was not an 
ill-looking youth, if one may call one's self 
such at the age of thirty. I could lay no 
claim either to the striking cast of coun- 
tenance or to the peculiar charm of ex- 
pression which made the face of Raffles 
like no other in the world. But this very 
distinction was in itself a danger, for its 
impression was indelible, whereas I might 
still have been mistaken for a hundred 
other young fellows at large in London. 
Incredible as it may appear to the mor- 
alists, I had sustained no external hall- 
mark by my term of imprisonment, and I 
am vain enough to believe that the evil 
which I did had not a separate existence 
in my face. This afternoon, indeed, I was 
struck by the purity of my fresh com- 
plexion, and rather depressed by the gen- 
eral innocence of the visage which peered 
into mine from the little mirror. My straw- 
coloured moustache, grown in the flat after 
a protracted holiday, again preserved the 
most disappointing dimensions, and was 
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still invisible- in certain lights without wax. 
So far from discerning the desperate crim- 
inal who has " done time " once, and de- 
served it over and over again, the superior 
but superficial observer might have imag- 
ined that he detected a certain element of 
folly in my face. 

At all events it was not the face to shut 
the doors of a first-class hotel against me, 
without accidental evidence of a more ex- 
plicit kind, and it was with no little sat- 
isfaction that I directed the man to drive 
to the Star and Garter. I also told him 
to go through Richmond Park, though he 
warned me that it would add considerably 
to the distance and his fare. It was au- 
tumn, and it struck me that the tints would 
be fine. And I had learnt from Raffles to 
appreciate such things, even amid the ex- 
citement of an audacious enterprise. 

If I dwell upon my appreciation of this 
occasion it is because, like most pleasures, 
it was exceedingly short-lived. I was very 
comfortable at the Star and Garter, which 
was so empty that I had a room worthy 
of a prince, where I could enjoy the finest 

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Raffles 

of all views (in patriotic opinion) every 
morning while I shaved. I walked many 
miles through the noble park, over the 
commons of Ham and Wimbledon, and 
one day as far as that of Esher, where I 
was forcibly reminded of a service we once 
rendered to a distinguished resident in this 
delightful locality. But it was on Ham 
Common, one of the places which Raffles 
had mentioned as specially desirable, that 
I actually found an almost ideal retreat. 
This was a cottage where I heard, on in- 
quiry, that rooms were to be let in the 
summer. The landlady, a motherly body, 
of visible excellence, was surprised indeed 
at receiving an application for the winter 
months; but I have generally found that 
the title of " author," claimed with an air, 
explains every little innocent irregularity 
of conduct or appearance, and even re- 
quires something of the kind to carry con- 
viction to the lay intelligence. The present 
case was one in point, and when I said 
that I could only write in a room facing 
north, on mutton chops and milk, with a 
cold ham in the wardrobe in case of noc- 

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tumal inspiration, to which I was liable, 
my literary character was established be- 
yond dispute. I secured the rooms, paid a 
month's rent in advance at my own re- 
quest, and moped in them dreadfully until 
the week was up and Raffles due any day. 
I explained that the inspiration would not 
come, and asked abruptly if the mutton 
was New Zealand. 

Thrice had I made fruitless inquiries at 
the Richmond post-ofHce; but on the tenth 
day I was in and out almost every houn 
Not a word was there for me up to the 
last post at night. Home I trudged to 
Ham with horrible forebodings, and back 
again to Richmond after breakfast next 
morning. Still there was nothing. I could 
bear it no more. At ten minutes to eleven 
I was climbing the station stairs at Earl's 
Court. 

It was a wretched morning there, a 
weeping mist shrouding the long straight 
street, and clinging to one's face in clammy 
caresses. I felt how much better it was 
down at Ham, as I turned into our side 
street, and saw the flats looming like 
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Raffles. 

mountains, the chimney-pots hidden in the 
mist. At our entrance stood a nebulous 
conveyance, that I took at first for a trades- 
man's van ; to my horror it proved to be 
a hearse ; and all at once the white breath 
ceased upon my lips. 

I had looked up at our windows and the 
blinds were down 1 

I rushed within. The doctor's door stood 
open. I neither knocked nor rang, but 
found him in his consulting-room with red 
eyes and a blotchy face. Otherwise he was 
in solemn black from head to heel. 

" Who is dead? " I burst out. " Who is 
dead?" 

The red eyes looked redder than ever as 
Dr. Theobald opened them at the unwar- 
rantable sight of me ; and he was terribly 
slow in answering. But in the end he did 
answer, and did not kick me out as he evi- 
dently had a mind. 

" Mr. Maturin," he said, and sighed like 
a beaten man. 

I said nothing. It was no surprise to 
me. I had known it all these minutes. 
Nay, I had dreaded this from the first, 
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had divined it at the last, though to the 
last also I had refused to entertain my own 
conviction. Raffles dead! A real invalid 
after all ! Raffles dead, and on the point 
of burial! 

"What did he die of?" I asked, tin- 
consciously drawing on that fund of grim 
self-control which the weakest of us seem 
to hold in reserve for real calamity. 

" Typhoid," he answered. " Kensington 
is full of it." 

" He was sickening for it when I left, 
and you knew it, and could get rid of me 
then!" 

" My good fellow, I was obliged to have 
a more experienced nurse for that very 
reason." 

The doctor's tone was so conciliatory 
that I remembered in an instant vsrhat a 
humbug the man was, and became sud- 
denly possessed with the vague conviction 
that he was imposing upon me now. 

"Are you sure it was typhoid at all?" 
I cried fiercely to his face. "Are you sure 
it wasn't suicide — or murder ? " 

I confess that I can see little point in 
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this speech as I write it down, but it was 
what I said in a burst of grief and of wild 
suspicion ; nor was it without effect upon 
Dr. Theobald, who turned bright scarlet 
from his well-brushed hair to his immacu- 
late coUar. 

" Do you want me to throw you out into 
the street?" he cried; and all at once I 
remembered that I had come to Raffles as 
a perfect stranger, and for his sake might 
as well preserve that character to the last. 

" I beg your pardon,*' I said, brokenly. 
"He was so good to me — I became so 
attached to him. You forget I am orig- 
inally of his class." 

" I did forget it," replied Theobald, look- 
ing relieved at my new tone, " and I beg 
your pardon for doing so. Hush! They 
are bringing him down. I must have a 
drink before we start, and you'd better 
join me." 

There was no pretence about his drink 
this time, and a pretty stiff one it was, but 
I fancy my own must have run it hard. 
In my case it cast a merciful haze over 
much of the next hour, which I can truth- 
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fully describe as one of the most painful 
of my whole existence. I can have known 
very little of what I was doing*. I only 
remember finding myself in a hansom, 
suddenly wondering why it was going so 
slowly, and once more awaking to the 
truth. But it was to the truth itself more 
than to the liquor that I must have owed 
my dazed condition. My next recollection 
is of looking down into the open grave, 
in a sudden passionate anxiety to see the 
name for myself. It was not the name of 
my friend, of course, but it was the one 
under which he had passed for many 
months. 

I was still stupefied by a sense of in- 
conceivable loss, and had not raised my 
eyes from that which was slowly forcing 
me to realise what had happened, when 
there was a rustle at my elbow, and a 
shower of hothouse flowers passed before 
them, falling like huge snowflakes where 
my gaze had rested. I looked up, and at 
my side stood a majestic figure in deep 
mourning. The face was carefully veiled, 
but I was too close not to recognise the 
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masterful beauty whom the world knew as 
Jacques Saillard. I had no sympathy with 
her ; on the contrary, my blood boiled with 
the vag^e conviction that in some way she 
was responsible for this death. Yet she 
was the only woman present — ^there were 
not half a dozen of us altogether — ^and her 
flowers were the only flowers. 

The melancholy ceremony was over, and 
Jacques Saillard had departed in a funereal 
brougham, evidently hired for the occa- 
sion. I had watched her drive away, and 
the sight of my own cabman, making signs 
to me through the fog, had suddenly re- 
minded me that I had bidden him to wait. 
I was the last to leave, and had turned my 
back upon the grave-diggers, already at 
their final task, when a hand fell lightly 
but firmly upon my shoulder. 

" I don't want to make a scene in a 
cemetery," said a voice, in a not unkindly, 
almost confidential whisper. "Will you 
get into your own cab and come quietly? " 

"Who on earth are you?" I exclaimed. 

I now remembered having seen the fel- 
low hovering about during the funeral, and 
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An Old Flame 

subconsciously taking him for the under- 
taker's head man. He had certainly that 
appearance, and even now I could scarcely 
believe that he was anything else. 

" My name won't help you/' he said, 
pityingly. " But you will guess where I 
come from when I tell you I have a war- 
rant for your arrest." 

My sensations at this announcement may 
not be believed, but I solemnly declare that 
1 have seldom experienced so fierce a sat- 
isfaction. Here was a new excitement in 
which to drown my grief; here was some- 
thing to think about; and I should be 
spared the intolerable experience of a soli- 
tary return to the little place at Ham. It 
was as though I had lost a limb and some 
one had struck me so hard in the face 
that the greater agony was forgotten, I 
got into the hansom without a word, my 
captor following at my heels, and giving 
his own directions to the cabman before 
taking his seat. The word " station " was 
the only one I caught, and I wondered 
whether it was to be Bow Street again. 
My companion's next words, however, or 
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rather the tone in which he uttered them, 
destroyed my capacity for idle specula- 
tion. 

" Mr. Maturin ! '' said he. " Mr. Matu- 
rin, indeed ! " 

"Well/' said I, "what about hun?'' 

" Do you think we don't know who he 
was?" 

"Who was he?" I asked, defiantly. 

" You ought to know," said he. " You 
got locked up through him the other time, 
too. His favourite name was Raffles, 
then." 

" It was his real name," I said, indig- 
nantly. " And he has been dead for years." 

My captor simply chuckled. 

" He's at the bottom of the sea, I tell 
youl" 

But I do not know why I should have 
told him with such spirit, for what could 
it matter to Raffles now ? I did not think ; 
instinct was still stronger than reason, and, 
fresh from his funeral, I had taken up the 
cudgels for my dead friend as though he 
were still alive. Next moment I saw this 
for myself, and my tears came nearer the 
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surface than they had been yet; bnt the 
fellow at my side laughed outright. 

" Shall I tell you something else? " said 
he. 

"As you like." 

"He's not even at the bottom of that 
grave ! He's no more dead than you or I, 
and a sham burial is his latest piece of 
villainy ! " 

I doubt whether I could have spoken if 
I had tried. I did not try. I had tio use 
for speech. I did not even ask him if he 
was sure, I was so sure myself. It was all 
as plain to me as riddles usually are when 
one has the answer. The doctor's alarms, 
his unscrupulous venality, the simulated 
illness, my own dismissal, each fitted in its 
obvious place, and not even the last had 
power as yet to mar my joy in the one 
central fact to which all the rest were as 
tapers to the sun. 

" He is alive I " I cried. " Nothing else 
matters — he is alive I " 

At last I did ask whether they had got 
him too; but thankful as I was for the 
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much care what answer I received. Al- 
ready I was figuring out how much we 
might each get, and how old we should be 
when we came out. But my companion 
tilted his hat to the back of his head, at the 
same time putting his face close to mine, 
and compelling my scrutiny. And my an- 
swer, a3 you have already guessed, was the 
face of Raffles himself, superbly disguised 
(but less superbly than his voice), and yet 
so thinly that I should have known him 
in a trice had I not been too miserable 
in the beginning to give him a second 
glance. 

Jacques Saillard had made his Hfe im- 
possible, and this was the one escape. 
Raffles had bought the doctor for a thou- 
sand pounds, and the doctor had bought 
a " nurse " of his own kidney, on his own 
account; me, for some reason, he would 
not trust i he had insisted upon my dis- 
missal as an essential preliminary to his 
part in the conspiracy. Here the details 
were half-humorous, half-gruesome, each 
in turn as Raffles told me the story. At 
one period he had been very daringly 
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drugged indeed, and, in his own words, 
" as dead as a man need be " ; but he had 
left strict instructions that nobody but the 
nurse and " my devoted physician " should 
" lay a finger on me '* afterwards ; and by 
virtue of this proviso a library of books 
(largely acquired for the occasion) had 
been impiously interred at Kensal Green. 
Raffles had definitely undertaken not to 
trust me with the secret, and, but for my 
untoward appearance at the funeral (which 
he had attended for his own final satisfac- 
tion), I was assured and am convinced that 
he would have kept his promise to the 
letter. In explaining this he gave me the 
one explanation I desired, and in another 
moment we turned into Praed Street, Pad- 
dington. 

" And r thought you said Bow Street I " 
said I. "Are you coming straight down 
to Richmond with me ? " 

" I may as well," said Raffles, " though 
I did mean to get my kit first, so as to 
start in fair and square as the long-k)st 
brother from the bush. That's why I 
hadn't written. The function was a day 
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Raffles 

later than I calculated. I was going to 
write to-night/' 

" But what are we to do ? " said I, hesi- 
tating when he had paid the cab. " I have 
been playing the colonies for all they are 
worth!" 

"Oh, I've lost my luggage," said he, 
" or a wave came into my cabin and spoilt 
every stitch, or I had nothing fit to bring 
ashore. We'll settle that in the train." 



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THE WRONG HOUSE 

MY brother Ralph, who now lived with 
me on the edge of Ham Common, 
had come home from Australia with a 
curious affection of the eyes, due to long 
exposure to the glare out there, and neces- 
sitating the use of clouded spectacles in the 
open air. He had not the rich complexion 
of the typical colonist, being indeed pecul- 
iarly pale, but it appeared that he had been 
confined to his berth for the greater part 
of the voyage, while his prematurely g^ey 
hair was sufficient proof that the rigours 
of bush life had at last undermined an orig- 
inally tough constitution. Our landlady, 
who spoilt my brother from the first, was 
much concerned on his behalf, and wished 
to call in the local doctor; but Ralph said 
dreadful things about the profession, and 
quite frightened the good woman by ar- 
bitrarily forbidding her ever to let a doctor 
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Raffles 

inside her door. I had to apologise to her 
for the painful prejudices and violent lan- 
guage of "these colonists/' but the old 
soul was easily mollified. She had fallen 
in love with my brother at first sight, and 
she never could do too much for him. It 
was owing to our landlady that I took to 
calling him Ralph, for the first time in our 
lives, on her beginning to speak of and to 
him as " Mr. RafHes." 

" This won't do," said he to me. " It's 
a name that sticks." 

" It must be my fault ! She must have 
heard it from me," said I self-reproach- 
fuUy. 

"You must tell her it's the short for 
Ralph." 

" But it's longer." 

"It's the short," said he; "and you've 
got to tell her so." 

Henceforth I heard as much of " Mr. 
Ralph," his likes and his dislikes, what he 
would fancy and what he would not, and 
oh, what a dear gentleman he was, that I 
often remembered to say " Ralph, old 
chap," myself. 

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The Wrong House 

It was an ideal cottage, as I said when I 
found it, and in it our delicate man became 
rapidly robust. Not that the air was also 
ideal, for, when it was not raining, we had 
the same faithful mist from November to 
March. But it was something to Ralph to 
get any air at all, other than night-air, and 
the bicycle did the rest. We taught our- 
selves, and may I never forget our earlier 
rides, through and through Richmond 
Park when the afternoons were shortest, 
upon the incomparable Ripley Road when 
we gave a day to it. Raffles rode a Beeston 
Humber, a Royal Sunbeam was good 
enough for me, but he insisted on our both 
having Dunlop tyres. 

" They seem the most popular brand. I 
had my eye on the road all the way from 
Ripley to Cobham, and there were more 
Dunlop marks than any other kind. Bless 
you, yes, they all leave their special tracks, 
and we don't want ours to be extra special ; 
the Dunlop's like a rattlesnake, and the 
Palmer leaves telegraph-wires, but surely 
the serpent is more in our line." 

That was the winter when there were so 
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Raffles 

many burglaries in the Thames Valley 
from Richmond upward. It was said that 
the thieves used bicycles in every case, but 
what is not said? They were sometimes on 
foot to my knowledge, and we took a great 
interest in the series, or rather sequence of 
successful crimes. Raffles would often get 
his devoted old lady to read him the latest 
local accounts, while I was busy with my 
writing (much I wrote) in my own room. 
We even rode out by night ourselves, to see 
if we could not get on the tracks of the 
thieves, and never did we fail to find hot 
coffee on the hob for our return. We had 
indeed fallen upon our feet. Also, the 
misty nights might have been made for the 
thieves. But their success was not so con- 
sistent, and never so enormous, as people 
said, especially the sufferers, who lost more 
valuables than they had ever been known 
to possess. Failure was often the caitiffs' 
portion, and disaster once; owing, iron- 
ically enough, to that very mist which 
should have served them. But I am going 
to tell the story with some particularity, 
and perhaps some gusto, you will see why 

who read. 

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The Wrong House 

The right house stood on high ground 
near the river, with quite a drive (in at one 
gate and out at the other) sweeping past 
the steps. Between the two gates was a 
half-moon of shrubs, to the left of the steps 
a conservatory, and to their right the walk 
leading to the tradesmen's entrance and the 
back premises; here also was the pantry 
window, of which more anon. The right 
house was the residence of an opulent 
stockbroker who wore a heavy watch- 
chain and seemed fair game. There wottkl 
have been two objections to it had I been 
the stockbroker. The house was one of a. 
row, though a goodly row, and an array- 
crammer had established himself next door. 
There is a type o£ such institutions in the 
suburbs ; the youths go about in knicker- 
bockers, smoking pipes, except on Satur- 
day nights, when they lead each other home^ 
from the last train. It was none of ouir 
business to spy upon these boys, but their 
manners and customs fell within the field 
of observation. And we did not choose the 
night upon which the whole row was Ukely, 
to be kept awake. 

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Raffles 

The night that we did choose was as 
misty as even the Thames Valley is capable 
of making them. RafHes smeared vaseline 
upon the plated parts of his Beeston Hum- 
ber before starting^ and our dear landlady 
cosseted us both, and prayed we might 
see nothing of the nasty burglars, not 
denying as the reward would be very 
handy to them that got it, to say noth- 
ing of the honor and glory. We had prom- 
ised her a liberal perquisite in the event of 
our success, but she must not give other 
cyclists our idea by mentioning it to a soul. 
It was about midnight when we cycled 
through Kingston to Surbiton, having 
trundled our machines across Ham Fields, 
mournful in the mist as those by Acheron, 
and so over Teddington Bridge. 

I often wonder why the pantry window 
is the vulnerable point of nine houses out 
of ten. This house of ours was almost the 
tenth, for the window in question had bars 
of sorts, but not the right sort. The only 
bars that RafHes allowed to beat him were 
the kind that are let into the stone outside ; 
those fixed within are merely screwed to 
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The Wrong House 

the woodwork, and you can unscrew as 
many as necessary if you take the trouble 
and have the time. Barred windows are 
usually devoid of other fasteners worthy the 
name; this one was no exception to that 
foolish rule, and a push with the penknife 
did its business. I am giving householders 
some valuable hints, and perhaps deserv- 
ing a good mark from the critics. These, in 
any case, are the points that I would see 
to, were I a rich stockbroker in a river-side 
suburb. In giving good advice, however, 
I should not have omitted to say that we 
had left our machines in the semicircular 
shrubbery in front, or that Raffles had most 
'ingeniously fitted our lamps with dark 
slides, which enabled us to leave them burn- 
ing. 

It proved sufficient to unscrew the bars at 
the bottom only, and then to wrench them 
to either side. Neither of us had grown 
stout with advancing years, and in a few 
minutes we had both wormed through into 
the sink, and thence to the floor. It was not 
an absolutely noiseless process, but once in 
the pantry we were mice, and no longer 
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Raffles 

blind mice. There was a gas-bracket, but 
we did not meddle with that. Raffles went 
armed these nights with a better light than 
gas ; if it were not immoral, I might rec- 
ommend a dark-lantern which was more or 
less his patent. It was that handy inven- 
tion, the electric torch, fitted by Raffles with 
a dark hood to fulfil the functions of a slide. 
I had held it through the bars while he un- 
did the screws, and now he held it to the 
keyhole, in which a key was turned upcm 
the other side. 

There was a pause for consideration, and 
in the pause we put on our masks. It 
was never known that these Thames Valley 
robberies were all committed by miscreants 
decked in the livery of crime, but that was 
because until this night we had never even 
shown our masks. It was a point upon 
which Raffles had insisted on all feasible 
occasions since his furtive return to the 
world. To-night it twice nearly lost us 
everything — ^but you shall hear. 

There is a forceps for turning keys from 
the wrong side of the door, but the imple- 
ment is not so easy of manipulation as it 
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The Wrong House 

might be. RafSes for one preferred a sharp 
knife and the comer of the panel. You 
go through the panel because that is thin- 
nest, of course in the comer nearest the 
key, and you use a knife when you can, be- 
cause it makes least noise. But it does take 
minutes, and even I can remember shifting 
the electric torch from one hand to the 
other before the aperture was large enough 
to receive the hand and wrist of Raffles. 

He had at such times a motto of which I 
might have made earlier use, but the fact 
is that I have only once before described 
a downright burglary in which I assisted, 
and that without knowing it at the time. 
The most solemn student of these annals 
cannot affirm that he has cut through many 
doors in our company, since (what was to 
me) the maiden effort to which I allude. 
I, however, have cracked only too many a 
crib in conjunction with A. J. Raffles, and 
at the crucial moment he would whisper 
*' Victory or Wormwood Scmbbs, Bun- 
ny 1 " or instead of Wormwood Scrubbs 
it might be Portland Bill. This time it was 
neither one nor the other, for with that very 
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Raffles 

word ** victory " upon his lips, they whit- 
ened and parted with the first taste of de- 
feat. 

'* My hand's held I " gasped RafHes, and 
the white of his eyes showed all round the 
iris, a rarer thing than you may think. 

At the same moment I heard the shuf- 
fling feet and the low, excited young voices 
on the other side of the door, and a faint 
light shone round RafSes's wrist. 

"Well done. Beefy!" 

^'Hangontohiml" 

"Good old Beefy 1" 

"Beefy'sgothiml" 

"Sohavel— sohavel!" 

And Raffles caught my arm with his one 
free hand. "They've got me tight," he 
whispered. " Fm done." 

" Blaze through the door," I urged, and 
might have done it had I been armed. But 
I never was. It was Raffles who monopo- 
lised that risk. 

"I can't — it's the boys — the wrong 

house! " he whispered. " Curse the fog — 

it's done me. But you get out. Bunny, 

while you can; never mind me; it's my 

turn, old chap." 

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The Wrong House 

His one hand tightened in affectionate 
farewell. I put the electric torch in it before 
I went, trembling in every inch, but without 
a word. 

Get out! His turn! Yes, I would get 
out, but only to come in again, for it was 
my turn — ^mine — ^not his. Would Raffles 
leave me held by a hand through a hole 
in a door? What he would have done in 
my place was the thing for me to do now. 
I began by diving head-first through the 
pantry window and coming to earth upon 
all fours. But even as I stood up, and 
brushed the gravel from the palms of my 
hands and the knees of my knickerbockei s, 
I had no notion what to do next. And yet' 
I was half-way to the front door before I 
remembered the vile crape mask upon my 
face, and tore it off as the door flew open 
and my feet were on the steps. 

" He's into the next garden," I cried to 
a bevy of pajamas with bare feet and young 
faces at either end of them. 

" Who? Who? '' said they, giving way 
before me. 

" Some fellow who came through one of 
your windows head-first." 
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Raffles 

** The other Johnny, the other Johnny," 
the cherubs chorused. 

" Biking past — saw the light — ^why, what 
have you there?" 

Of course, it was Raffles's hand that they 
had, but now I was in the hall among them. 
A red-faced barrel of a boy did all the hold- 
ing, one hand round the wrist, the other 
palm to palm, and his knees braced up 
against the panel. Another was rendering 
ostentatious but ineffectual aid, and three 
or four others danced about in their paja- 
mas. After all, they were not more than 
four to one. I had raised my voice, 
so that Raffles might hear me and take 
heart, and now I raised it again. Yet to this 
day I cannot account for my inspiration, 
that proved nothing less. 

" Don't talk so loud," they were crying 
below their breath ; " don't wake 'em up- 
stairs, this is our show." 

" Then I see you've got one of them," 
said I, as desired. " Well, if you want the 
other you can have him, too. I believe he's 
hurt himself." 

"After him, after him!" they exclaimed 
nas one. 

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The Wrong House 

" But I think he got over the wall '* 

*' Come on, you chaps, come on I " 

And there was a soft stampede to the hall 
door. 

" Don't all desert me, I say I " gasped the 
red-faced hero who held Raffles prisoner. 

" We must have them both, Beefy I " 

"That'sall very well " 

" Look here," I interposed, " I'll stay by 
you. I've a friend outside, I'll get him 
too." 

" Thanks awfully," said the valiant Beefy. 

The hall was empty now. My heart beat 
high. 

" How did you hear them ? " I inquired, 
my eye running over him. 

" We were down having drinks — ^game 
o' nap— in there." 

Beefy jerked his great head toward an 
open door, and the tail of my eye caught 
the glint of glasses in the firelight, but the 
rest of it was otherwise engaged. 

" Let me relieve you," I said, trembling. 

*' No, I'm all right." 

" Then I must insist." 

And before he could answer I had him 
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Raffles 

round the neck with such a will that not 
a gurgle passed my fingers, for they were 
almost buried in his hot smooth fiesh. Oh, 
I am not proud of it ; the act was as vile as 
act could be; but I was not going to see 
RafHes taken, my one desire was to be the 
saving of him, and I tremble even now 
to think to what lengths I might have 
gone for its fulfilment. As it was, I 
squeezed and tugged until one strong hand 
gave way after the other and came feeling 
round for me, but feebly because they had 
held on so long. And what do you suppose 
was happening at the same moment? The 
pinched white hand of Raffles, reddening 
with returning blood, and with a clot of 
blood upon the wrist, was craning upward 
and turning the key in the lock without a 
moment's loss. 

"Steady on. Bunny!" 

And I saw that Beefy's ears were blue; 
but Raffles was feeling in his pockets as he 
spoke. " Now let him breathe," said he, 
clapping his handkerchief over the poor 
youth's mouth. An empty phial was in his 
other hand, and the first few stertorous 
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The Wrong House 

breaths that the poor boy took were the 
end of him for the time being. Oh, but it 
was villainous, my part especially, for he 
must have been far gone to go the rest of 
the way so readily. I began by saying I 
was not proud of this deed, but its dastardly 
character has come home to me more than 
ever with the penance of writing it out. I 
see in myself, at least my then self, things 
that I never saw quite so clearly before. 
Yet let me be quite sure that I would not 
do the same again. I had not the smallest 
desire to throttle this innocent lad (nor did 
I), but only to extricate Raffles from the 
most hopeless position he was ever in ; and 
after all it was better than a blow from be- 
hind. On the whole, I will not alter a 
word, nor whine about the thing any more. 
We lifted the plucky fellow into Raffles's 
place in the pantry, locked the door on him, 
and put the key through the panel. Now 
was the moment for thinking of ourselves, 
and again that infernal mask which Raffles 
swore by came near the undoing of us both. 
.We had reached the steps when we were 
hailed by a voice, not from without but 
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Raffles 

from within, and I had just time to tear the 
accursed thing from Raffles's face before he 
turned. 

A stout man with a blonde moustache was 
on the stairs, in his pajamas like the boys. 

" What are you doing here ? " said he. 

" There has been an attempt upon your 
house/' said I, still spokesman for the 
night, and still on the wings of inspira- 
tion. 

" Your sons " 

" My pupils." 

" Indeed. Well, they heard it, drove off 
the thieves, and have given chase." 

" And where do you come in ? " inquired 
the stout man, descending. 

" We were bicycling past, and I actually 
saw one fellow come head-first through 
your pantry window. I think he got over 
the wall." 

Here a breathless boy returned. 

" Can't see anything of him," he gasped. 

" It's true, then," remarked the cram- 
mer. 

" Look at that door," said I. 

But unfortunately the breathless boy 
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looked also, and now he was being joined 
by others equally short of wind. 

"Where's Beefy?" he screamed. "What 
on earth's happened to Beefy ? " 

" My good boys," exclaimed the cram- 
mer, " will one of you be kind enough to tell 
me what you've been doing, and what these 
gentlemen have been doing for you? 
Come in all, before you get your death. I 
see lights in the class-room, and more than 
lights. Can these be signs of a carouse ? " 

" A very innocent one, sir," said a well- 
set-up youth with more moustache than I 
have yet. 

" Well, Olphert, boys will be boys. Sup- 
pose you tell me what happened, before we 
come to recriminations." 

The bad old proverb was my first warn- 
-ing. I caught two of the youths exchang- 
ing glances under raised eyebrows. Yet 
their stout, easy-going mentor had given 
me such a reassuring glance of sidelong 
humour, as between man of the world and 
man of the world, that it was difficult to sus- 
pect him of suspicion. I was nevertheless 
itching to be gone. 

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Young Olphert told his story with en- 
{a^ing candour. It was true that they had 
come down for an hour's nap and cig- 
arettes; well, and there was no denying 
that was whisky in the glasses. The boys 
were now all back in their class-room, I 
think entirely for the sake of warmth ; but 
Raffles and I were in knickerbockers and 
Norfolk jackets, and very naturally re- 
mained without, while the army-crammer 
(who wore bed-room slippers) stood on the 
threshold, with an eye each way. The more 
I fiaw of the man the better I liked and the 
more I feared him. His chief annoyance 
thus far was that they had not called him 
when they heard the noise, that they had 
dreamt of leaving him out of the fun. But 
he semed more hurt than angry about that. 

" Well, sir," concluded Olphert, " we left 
old Beefy Smith hanging on to his hand, 
and this gentleman with him, so perhaps he 
can tell us what happened next? " 

" I wish I could," I cried, with all their 
eyes upon me, for I had had time to think. 
" Some of you must have heard me say Td 
fetch my friend in from the road?" 
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"Yes, I did/* piped an innocent from 
within. 

" Well, and when I came back with him 
things were exactly as you see them now. 
Evidently the man's strength was too much 
for the boy's ; but whether he ran upstairs 
or outside I know no more than you do." 

" It wasn't like that boy to run either 
way," said the crammer, cocking a clear 
blue eye on me. 

" But if he gave chase I " 

" It wasn't like him even to let go." 

" I don't believe Beefy ever would," put 
in Olphert. " That's why we gave him the 
billet" 

" He may have followed him through the 
pantry window," I suggested wildly. 

" But the door's shut," put in a boy. 

" I'll have a look at it," said the crammer. 

And the key no longer in the lock, and 
the insensible youth within 1 The key 
would be missed, the door kicked in ; nay, 
with the man's eye still upon me, I thought 
I could smell the chloroform, I thought I 
could hear a moan, and prepared for either 
any moment. And how he did stare 1 I 
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have detested blue eyes ever siace, and 
blonde moustaches, and the whole stout 
easy-going type that is not such a fool as 
it looks. I had brazened it out with the 
boys, but the first grown man was too many 
for me, and the blood ran out of my heart 
as though there was no Raffles at my 
back. Indeed, I had forgotten him. I 
had so longed to put this thing through 
by myself! Even in my extremity it 
was almost a disappointment to me when 
his dear cool voice fell like a delicious 
draught upon my ears. But its effect upon 
the others is more interesting to recall. 
Until now the crammer had the centre of 
the stage, but at this point Raffles usurped 
a place which was always his at will. Peo- 
ple would wait for what he had to say, as 
these people waited now for the simplest 
and most natural thing in the world. 

" One moment ! " he had begun. 

" Well ? " said the crammer, relieving me 
of his eyes at last. 

" I don't want to lose any of the fun " 

" Nor must you," said the crammer, with 
emphasis. 

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The Wrong House 

" But we've left our bikes outside, and 
mine's a Beeston Humber," continued Raf- 
fles. " If you don't mind, we'll bring 'em 
in before these fellows get away on them." 

And out he went without a look to see 
the effect of his words, I after him with a 
determined imitation of his self-control. 
But I would have given something to turn 
round. I believe that for one moment the 
shrewd instructor was taken in, but as I 
reached the steps I heard him asking his 
pupils whether any of them had seen any 
bicycles outside. 

That moment, however, made the differ- 
ence. We were in the shrubbery, Raffles 
with his electric torch drawn and blazing, 
when we heard them kicking at the pantry 
door, and in the drive with our bicycles be- 
fore man and boys poured pell-mell down 
the steps. 

We rushed our machines to the nearer 
gate, for both were shut, and we got 
through and swung it home behind us in 
the nick of time. Even I could mount be- 
fore they could reopen the gate, which Raf- 
fles held against them for half an instant 
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with unnecessary gallantry. But he would 
see me in front of him, and so it fell to me 
to lead the. way. 

Now, I have said that it was a very misty 
night (hence the whole thing), and also that 
these houses were on a hill But they were 
not nearly on the top of the hill, and I did 
what I firmly believe that almost everybody 
would have done in my place. Raffles, in- 
deed, said he would have done it himself, 
but that was his generosity, and he was the 
one man who would not. What I did was 
to turn in the opposite direction to the other 
gate, where we might so easily have been 
cut oflF, and to pedal for my life — ^up-hill 1 

" My God ! " I shouted when I found it 
out. 

"Can you turn in your own length?" 
asked Raffles, following loyally. 

" Not certain." 

** Then stick to if. You couldn't help it. 
But It's the devil of a hill I" 

" And here they come ! " 

*• Let them," said Raffles, and brandished 
his electric torch, our only light as yet. 

A hill seems endless in the dark, for you 
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cannot see the end, and with the patter of 
bare feet gaining on us, I thought this one 
could have no end at all. Of course the 
boys could charge up it quicker than we 
could pedal, but I even heard the voice of 
their stout instructor growing louder 
through the mist 

" Oh, to think IVe let you in for this! " 
I groaned, my head over the handle-bars, 
every ounce of my weight first on one foot 
and then on the other. I glanced at RafHes, 
and in the white light of his torch he was 
doing it all with his ankles, exactly as 
though he had been riding in a Gymkhana. 

" It's the most sporting chase I was ever 
in/' said he. 

"All my fault I '• 

"My dear Bunny, I wouldn't have 
missed it for the world ! " 

Nor would he forge ahead of me, though 
he could have done so in a moment, he who 
from his boyhood had done everything of 
the kind so much better than anybody else. 
No, he must ride a wheel's length behind 
me, and now we could not only hear the 
boys running, but breathing also. And 
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then of a sudden I saw Raffles on my right 
striking with his torch ; a face flew out of 
the darkness to meet the thick glass bulb 
with the glowing wire enclosed ; it was the 
face of the boy Olphert, with his enviable 
moustache, but it vanished with the crash 
of glass, and the naked wire thickened to 
the eye like a tuning-fork struck red-hot. 

I saw no more of that. One of them had 
crept up on my side also ; as I looked, hear- 
ing him pant, he was grabbing at my left 
handle, and I nearly sent Raffles into the 
hedge by the sharp turn I took to the right. 
His wheel's length saved him. But my boy 
could run, was overhauling me again, 
seemed certain of me this time, when all at 
once the Sunbeam ran easily ; every ounce 
of my weight with either foot once more, 
and I was over the crest of the hill, the grey 
road reeling out from under me as I felt for 
my brake. I looked back at Raffles. He 
had put up his feet. I screwed my head 
round still further, and there were the boys 
in their pajamas, their hands upon their 
knees, like so many wicket-keepers, and a 
big man shaking his fist. There was a lamp- 
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The Wrong House 

post on the hill-top, and that was the last I 
saw. 

We sailed down to the river, then on 
through Thames Ditton as far as Esher 
Station, when we turned sharp to the right, 
and from the dark stretch by Imber Court 
came to light in Molesey, and were soon 
pedalling like gentlemen of leisure through 
Bushey Park, our lights turned up, the 
broken torch put out and away. The big 
gates had long been shut, but you can 
manoeuvre a bicycle through the others. 
We had no further adventures on the way 
home, and our coffee was still warm upon 
the hob. 

" But I think it's an occasion for Sulli- 
vans," said RafHes, who now kept them for 
such. " By all my gods. Bunny, it's been 
the most sporting night we ever had in our 
lives! And do you know which was the 
most sporting part of it? " 

"That up-hill ride?" 

" I wasn't thinking of it." 

" Turning your torch into a truncheon? " 

"My dear Bunny! A gallant lad — I 
hated hitting him." 

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Raffles 

** I know," I said. " The way you got 
us out of the house ! " 

"No, Bunny," said Raffles, blowing 
rings. " It came before that, you sinner, 
and you know it 1 " 

" You don't mean anything I did? " said 
I, self-consciously, for I began to see that 
this was what he did mean. And now at 
latest it will also be seen why this story has 
been told with undue and inexcusable 
gusto ; there is none other like it for me to 
tell ; it is my one ewe-lamb in all these an- 
nals. But Raffles had a ruder name for it. 

*' It was the Apotheosis of the Bunny," 
said he, but in a tone I never shall forget. 

" I hardly knew what I was doing or say- 
ing," I said. "The whole thing was a 
fluke." 

" Then," said Raffles, " it was the kind of 
fluke I always trusted you to make when 
runs were wanted." 

And he held out his dear old hand. 



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(THE KNEES OF THE GODS 



••T^HE worst of this war," said Raffles, 
1 " is the way it puts a fellow off his 
work," 

It was, of course, the winter before last, 
and we had done nothing dreadful since the 
early autumn. Undoubtedly the war was 
the cause. Not that we were among the 
earlier victims of the fever. I took dis- 
gracefully little interest in the Negotiations, 
while the Ultimatum appealed to Raffles as 
a sporting flutter. Then we gave the whole 
thing till Christmas. We still missed the 
cricket in the papers. But one russet after- 
noon we were in Richmond, and a terrible 
type was shouting himself hoarse with 
"*Eavy British lorsses — orful slorter o' 
the Bo-wers 1 Orful slorter ! Orful slorter I 
'Eavy British lorsses 1 " I thought the ter- 
rible type had invented it, but Raffles gave 
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Raffles 

him more than he asked, and then I held the 
bicycles while he tried to pronounce 
Eland's Laagte. We were never again 
without our sheaf of evening papers, and 
Raffles ordered three morning ones, and I 
gave up mine in spite of its literary page. 
We became strategists. We knew exactly 
what Buller was to do on landing, and, still 
better, what the other Generals should have 
done. Our map was the best that could be 
bought, with flags that deserved a better 
fate than standing still. Raffles woke me 
to hear The Absent-Minded Beggar on the 
morning it appeared; he was one of the 
first substantial subscribers to the fund. 
By this time our dear landlady was more 
excited than we. To our enthusiasm for 
Thomas she added a personal bitterness 
against the Wild Boars, as she persisted in 
calling them, each time as though it were 
the first. I could linger over our landlady's 
attitude in the whole matter. That was her 
only joke about it, and the true humorist 
never smiled at it herself. But you had only 
to say a syllable for a venerable gentleman, 
declared by her to be at the bottom of it all, 
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The Knees of the Gods 

to hear what she could do to him if she 
caught him. She could put him in a cage 
and go on tour with him, and make him 
howl and dance for his food like a debased 
bear before a fresh audience every day. Yet 
a more kind-hearted woman I have never 
known. The war did not uplift our land- 
lady as it did her lodgers. 

But presently it ceased to have that pre- 
cise effect upon us. Bad was being made 
worse and worse; and then came more 
than Englishmen could endure in that 
black week across which the names of 
three African villages are written forever in 
letters of blood. " All three pegs," groaned 
Raffles on the last morning of the week; 
" neck-and-crop, neck-and-crop ! " It was 
his first word of cricket since the beginning 
of the war. 

We were both depressed. Old school- 
fellows had fallen, and I know Raffles en- 
vied them; he spoke so wistfully of such 
an end. To cheer him up I proposed to 
break into one of the many more or less 
royal residences in our neighbourhood; a 
tough crib was what he needed ; but I will 
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Raffles 

not trouble you with what he said to me. 
There was less crime in England that win- 
ter than for years past ; there was none at 
all in Raffles. And yet there were those 
who could denounce the warl 

So we went on for a few of those dark 
days, Raffles very glum and grim, till one 
fine morning the Yeomanry idea put new 
heart into us all. It struck me at once as 
the glorious scheme it was to prove, but it 
did not hit me where it hit others. I was 
not a fox-hunter, and the gentlemen of 
England would scarcely have owned me 
as one of them. The case of Raffles was in 
that respect still more hopeless (he who 
had even played for them at Lord's), and 
he seemed to feel it. He would not speak 
to me all the morning; in the afternoon he 
went for a walk alone. It was another man 
who came home, flourishing a small bottle 
packed in white paper. 

" Bunny," said he, " I never did lift my 
elbow; it's the one vice I never had. It 
has taken me all these years to find my tip- 
ple, Bumiy; but here it is, my panacea, 
my elixir, my magic philtre ! " 
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I thought he had been at it on the road, 
and asked him the name of the stuff. 

" Look and see, Bunny." 

And if it wasn't a bottle of ladies' hair- 
dye, warranted to change any shade into 
the once fashionable yellow within a given 
number of applications I 

" What on earth," said I, " are you go- 
ing to do with this ? " 

" Dye for my country," he cried, swell- 
ing. " Dulce et decorum est, Bunny, my 
boyl" 

" Do you mean that you're going to the 
front?" 

" If I can without coming to it." 

I looked at him as he stood in the fire- 
light, straight as a dart, spare but wiry, 
alert, laughing, flushed from his wintry 
walk ; and as I looked, all the years that I 
had known him, and more besides, slipped 
from him in my eyes^ I saw him captain 
of the eleven at school. I saw him running 
with the muddy ball on days like this, run- 
ning round the other fifteen as a sheep-dog 
round a flock of sheep. He had his cap on 
still, and but for the grey hairs underneath 
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Raffles 

—but here I lost him in a sudden mist. 
It was not sorrow at his going, for I did not 
mean to let him go alone. It was enthusi- 
asm, admiration, affection, and also, I be- 
lieve, a sudden regret that he had not al- 
ways appealed to that part of my nature to 
which he was appealing now. It was a lit- 
tle thrill of penitence. Enough of it. 

" I think it great of you/' I said, and at 
first that was all. 

How he laughed at me I He had had his 
innings ; there was no better way of getting 
out. He had scored off an African mill- 
ionaire, the Players, a Queensland Legis- 
lator, the Camorra, the late Lord Ernest 
Belville, and again and again off Scot- 
land Yard. What more could one man 
do in one lifetime? And at the worst it 
was the death to die: no bed, no doctor, 
no temperature — and Raffles stopped him- 
self. 

"No pinioning, no white cap,*' he added, 
" if you like that better." 

" I don't like any of it," I cried, cordially ; 
" you've simply got to come back." 

" To what.^ " he asked, a strange look on 
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him. And I wandered — ^for one instant— 
whether my little thrill had gone through 
him. He was not a man of little thrills. 

Then for a minute I was in misery. Of 
course I wanted to go too— he shook my 
hand without a word — ^but how could I? 
They would never have me, a branded jail- 
bird, in the Imperial Yeomanry! Raffles 
burst out laughing; he had been looking 
very hard at me for about three seconds. 

"You rabbit," he cried, "even to think 
of it 1 We might as well offer ourselves to 
the Metropolitan Police Force. No, Bunny, 
we go out to the Cape on our own, and 
that's where we enlist. One of these regi- 
ments of irregular horse is the thing for 
us; you spent part of your pretty penny 
on horse-flesh, I believe, and you remem- 
ber how I rode in the bushl We're the 
very men for them. Bunny, and they won't 
ask to see our birth-marks out there. I 
don't think even my hoary locks would 
put them off, but it would be too con- 
spicuous in the ranks." 

Our landlady first wept on hearing our 
determination, and then longed to have the 
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Raffles 

pulling of certain whiskers (with the tongs, 
and they should be red-hot) ; but from that 
day, and for as many as were left to us, 
the good soul made more of us than ever. 
Not that she was at all surprised; dear 
brave gentlemen who could look for bur- 
glars on their bicycles at dead of night, 
it was only what you might expect of them, 
bless their lion hearts. I wanted to wink at 
Raffles, but he would not catch my eye. He 
was a ginger-headed Raffles by the end of 
January, and it was extraordinary what a 
difference it made. His most elaborate dis- 
guises had not been more effectual than this 
simple expedient, and, with khaki to com- 
plete the subdual of his individuality, he 
had every hope of escaping recognition in 
the field. The man he dreaded was the 
officer he had known in old days; there 
were ever so many of him at the Front ; and 
it was to minimise this risk that we went out 
second-class at the beginning of February. 
It was a weeping day, a day in a shroud, 
cold as clay, yet for that very reason an ideal 
day upon which to leave England for the 
sunny Front. Yet my heart was heavy as I 
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looked my last at her ; it was heavy as the 
raw thick air, until Raffles came and leant 
upon the rail at my side. 

"I know what you are thinking, and 
you've got to stop," said he. " It's on the 
knees of the gods. Bunny, whether we do or 
we don't, and thinking won't make us see 
over their shoulders." 



II 

Now I made as bad a soldier (ex- 
cept at heart) as Raffles made a good 
one, and I could not say a harder thing 
of myself. My ignorance of matters mili- 
tary was up to that time unfathomable, and 
is still profound. I was always a fool 
with horses, though I did not think so at 
one time, and I had never been any good 
with a gun. The average Tommy may be 
my intellectual inferior, but he must know 
some part of his work better than I ever 
knew any of mine. I never even learnt 
to be killed. I do not mean that I ever ran 
away. The South African Field Force 
might have been strengthened if I had. . 
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The foregoing remarks do not express a 
pose affected out of superiority to the usual 
spirit of the conquering hero, for no man 
was keener on the war than I, before I went 
to it. But one can only write with g^sto 
of events (like that little affair at Surbiton) 
in which one has acquitted oneself without 
discredit, and I cannot say that of my 
part in the war, of which I now loathe the 
thought for other reasons. The battle-field 
was no place for me, and neither was the 
camp. My ineptitude made me the butt of 
the looting, cursing, swashbuckling lot who 
formed the very irregular squadron which 
we joined; and it would have gone hard 
with me but for Raffles, who was soon the 
darling devil of them all, but never more 
loyally my friend. Your fireside fire-eater 
does not think of these things. He imag- 
ines all the fighting to be with the enemy. 
He will probably be horrified to hear that 
men can detest each other as cordially in 
khaki as in any other wear, and with a 
virulence seldom inspired by the bearded 
dead-shot in the opposite trench. To the 
fireside fire-eater, therefore (for you have 
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seen me one myself), I dedicate the story 
of Corporal Connal, Captain Bellingham, 
the General, RafHes, and myself. 

I must be vag^e, for obvious reasons. 
The troop is fighting as I write ; you will 
soon hear why I am not; but neither is 
RafHes, nor Corporal Connal. They are 
fighting as well as ever, those other hard- 
living, harder-dying sons of all soils ; but 
I am not going to say where it was that 
we fought with them. I believe that no 
body of men of equal size has done half 
so much heroic work. But they had got 
themselves a bad name off the field, so to 
speak; and I am not going to make it 
worse by saddling them before the world 
with Raffles and myself, and that ruffian 
Connal. 

The fellow was a mongrel type, a Glas- 
gow Irishman by birth and upbringing, but 
he had been in South Africa for years, and 
he certainly knew the country very well. 
This circumstance, coupled with the fact 
that he was a very handy man with horses, 
as all colonists are, had procured him the 
first small step from the ranks which facili- 
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tates bullying if a man be^a bully by nat- 
tire, and is physically fitted to be a 'success- 
ful one. Connal was a hulking ruffian, 
and in me had ideal game. The brute was 
offensive to me from the hour I joined. 
The details are of no importance, but I 
stood up to him at first in words, and 
finally for a few seconds on my feet. Then 
I went down like an ox, and Raffles came 
out of his tent. Their fight lasted twenty 
minutes, and Raffles was marked, but the 
net result was dreadfully conventional, for 
the bully was a bully no more. 

But I began gradually to suspect that 
he was something worse. All this time we 
were fighting every day, or so it seems when 
I look back. Never a great engagement, 
and yet never a day when we were wholly 
out of touch with the enemy. I had thus 
several opportunities of watching the other 
enemy under fire, and h^d almost con- 
vinced myself of the systematic harmless- 
ness of his own shooting, when a more 
glaring incident occurred. 

One night three troops of our squadron 
were ordered to a certain point whither 
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Ihey had patrolled the previous week ; but 
our own particular troop was to stay be- 
hind, and in charge of no other than the 
villainous corporal, both our officer and 
sergeant having gone into hospital with 
enteric. Our detention, however, was very 
temporary, and Connal would seem to have 
received the usual vague orders to proceed 
in the early morning to the place where 
the other three companies had camped. It 
appeared that we were to form an escort 
to two squadron-waggons containing kits, 
provisions, and ammunition. 

Before daylight Connal had reported his 
departure to the commanding officer, and 
we passed the outposts at grey dawn. 
Now, though I was perhaps the least ob- 
servant person in the troop, I was not the 
least wideawake where Corporal Connal 
was concerned, and it struck me at once 
that we were heading in the wrong direc- 
tion. My reasons are not material, but as 
a matter of fact our last week's patrol had 
pushed its khaki tentacles both east and 
west ; and eastward they had met with re- 
sistance so determined as to compel them 
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Raffles 

to retire ; yet it was eastward that we were 
travelling now. I at once spurred along- 
side Raffles, as he rode, bronzed and 
bearded, with warworn wideawake over 
eyes grown keen as a hawk's, and a cutty- 
pipe sticking straight out from his front 
teeth. I can see him now, so gaunt and 
grim and debonnair, yet already with much 
of the nonsense gone out of him, though I 
thought he only smiled on my misgivings. 

" Did he get the instructions. Bunny, or 
did we.^ Very well, then; give the devil 
a chance." 

There was nothing further to be said, 
but I felt more crushed than convinced; 
so we jogged along into broad daylight, 
until Raffles himself gave a wKistle of sur- 
prise. 

" A white flag, Bunny, by all my gods ! " 

I could not see it; he had the longest 
sight in all our squadron; but in a little 
the fluttering emblem, which had gained 
such a sinister significance in most of our 
eyes, was patent even to mine. A little 
longer, and the shaggy Boer was in our 
midst upon his shaggy pony, with a half- 
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scared, half-incredulous look in his deep- 
set eyes. He was on his way to our lines 
with some missive, and had little enough 
to say to us, though frivolous and flippant 
questions were showered upon him from 
most saddles. 

"Any Boers over there?" asked one, 
pointing in the direction in which we were 
still heading. 

" Shut up I " interjected Raffles in crisp 
rebuke. 

The Boer looked stolid but sinister. 

" Any of our chaps ? " added another. 

The Boer rode on with an open grin. 

And the incredible conclusion of the 
matter was that we were actually within 
their lines in another hour; saw them as 
large as life within a mile and a half on 
either side of us; and must every man of 
us have been taken prisoner had not every 
man but Connal refused to go one inch 
further, and had not the Boers themselves 
obviously suspected some subtle ruse as 
the only conceivable explanation of so 
madcap- a manoeuvre. They allowed us t* 
retire without firing a shotj and retire you 
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Raffles 

may be sure we did, the Kaffirs flogging 
their teams in a fury of fear, and our pre- 
cious corporal sullen but defiant. 

I have said this was the conclusion of the 
matter, and I blush to repeat that it prac- 
tically was. Connal was indeed wheeled 
up before the colonel, but his instructions 
were not written instructions, and he lied 
his way out with equal hardihood and tact. 

" You said ' over there,' sir," he stoutly 
reiterated; and- the vagueness with which 
such orders were undoubtedly given was 
the saving of him for the time being. 

I need not tell you how indignant I felt, 
for one. 

" The fellow is a spy ! " I said to Raffles, 
with no nursery oath, as we strolled within 
the lines that night. 

He merely smiled in my face. 

" And have you only just found it out. 
Bunny? I have known it almost ever 
since we joined; but this morning I did 
think we had him on toast." 

" It's disgraceful that we had not," cried 
I. "He ought to have been shot like a 
dog." 

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"Not so loud. Bunny, though I quite 
agree; but I don't regret what has hap- 
pened as much as you do. Not that I am 
less bloodthirsty than you are in this case, 
but a good deal more so! Bunny, I'm 
mad-keen on bowling him out with my 
own unaided hand — though I may ask you 
to take the wicket. Meanwhile, don't wear 
all your animosity upon your sleeve; the 
fellow has friends who still believe in him ; 
and there is no need for you to be more 
openly his enemy than you were before." 

Well, I can only vow that I did my best 
to follow this sound advice; but who but 
a Raffles can control his every look? It 
was never my forte, as you know, yet to this 
day I cannot conceive what I did to ex- 
cite the treacherous corporal's suspicions. 
He was clever enough, however, not to 
betray them, and lucky enough to turn the 
tables on us, as you shall hear. 



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III 

BLOfiMFONTEiN had fallen since our ai«- 
rtval, but there was plenty of fight in the 
Free Staters still> and I will not deny that 
it was these gentry who Were showing us 
the sport for which our corps came in. 
Constant skirmishing was our portion, 
with now and then an action that you 
would know at least by name, did I feel 
free to mention them. But I do not, and 
indeed it is better so. I have not to de- 
scribe the war even as I saw it, I am 
thankful to say, but only the martial story 
of us two and those others of whom you 
wot. Corporal Connal was the dangerous 
blackguard you have seen. Captain Bell- 
ingham is best known for his^ position in 
the batting averages a year or two ago, 
and for his subsequent failure to obtain a 
place in any of the five Test Matches. But 
I only think of him as the officer who rec- 
ognised Raffles. 

We had taken a village, making quite a 
little name for it and for ourselves, and in 
the village our division was reinforced by 
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a fresh brigade of the Imperial troops. It 
was a day of rest, our first for weeks, but 
Raffles and I spent no small part of it in 
seeking high and low for a worthy means 
of quenching the kind of thirst which used 
to beset Yeomen and others who had left 
good cellars for the veldt. The old knack 
came back to us both, though I believe that 
I alone was conscious of it at the time ; and 
we were leaving the house, splendidly sup- 
plied, when we almost ran into the arms of 
an infantry officer, with a scowl upon his 
red'hot face, and an eye-glass ilaming at 
U3 in the sun. 

" Peter Bellingham I " gasped Raffles un- 
der his breath, and then we saluted and 
tried to pass on, with the bottles ringing 
like church-bells under our khaki. But 
Captain Bellingham was a hard man. 

"What have you men been doin'?" 
drawled he. 

" Nothing, sir," we protested, like inno- 
cence with an injury. 

" Lootin' 's forbidden," said he. " You 
had better let me see those bottles." 

" We are done," whispered Raffles, and 
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straightway we made a sideboard of the 
stoop across which he had crept at so 
inopporttine a moment. I had not the heart 
to raise my eyes again, yet it was many mo- 
ments before the officer broke silence. 

" UamVarl " he murmured reverentially 
at last. " And Long John of Ben Nevis I 
The first drop that's been discovered in the 
whole psalm-singing show! What lot do 
you two belong to ? " 

I answered. 

" I must have your names." 

In my agitation I gave my real one. Raf- 
fles had turned away, as though in heart- 
broken contemplation of our lost loot. I 
saw the officer studying his half-profile with 
an alarming face. 

" What's your name? " he rapped out at 
last. 

But his strange low voice said plainly 
that he knew, and Raffles faced him with 
the monosyllable of confession and assent. 
I did not count the seconds until the next 
word, but it was Captain Bellingham who 
uttered it at last. 

" I thought you were dead." 
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.' ** Now you see I am not." 

" But you are at your old games ! " 
"I am not/* cried Raffles, and his tone 
was new to me. I have seldom heard one 
more indignant. "Yes," he continued, 
" this is loot, and the wrong 'un will out. 
That's what you're thinking, Peter — I beg 
your pardon — ^sir. But he isn't let out in 
the field ! We're playing the game as much 
as you are, old — ^sir." 

The plural number caused the captain to 
toss me a contemptuous look. " Is this the 
fellah who was taken when you swam for 
it?" he inquired, relapsing into his drawl. 
Raffles said I was, and with that took a pas- 
sionate oath upon our absolute rectitude as 
volunteers. There could be no doubting 
him ; but the officer's eyes went back at the 
bottles on the stoop. 

" But look at those," said he; and as he 
looked himself the light eye melted in his 
fiery face. " And I've got Sparklets in my 
tent," he sighed. "You make it in a 
minute ! " 

Not a word from Raffles, and none, you 
may be sure, from me. Then suddenly 
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Raffles 

BelHngham told me where his tent was, tod, 
adding that our case was one for serious 
consideration, strode in its direction with- 
out another word until some sunlit paces 
separated us. 

" You can bring that stuff with you," he 
then flung over a shoulder-strap, " and I 
advise you to put it where you had it 
before." 

A trooper saluted him some yards further 
on, and looked evilly at us as we followed 
with our loot. It was Corporal Connal of 
ours, and the thought of him takes my mind 
off the certainly gallant captain who ofily 
that day had joined our divisidft with tbe 
reiiiiof cements. I could not stdnd tbe man 
myseU. He added sodarWater to our 
whisky in hts* tent, and would only keep a 
couple of bottles when we came away. 
Softened by the spirit, to which disuse made 
us all ^ little sensitive, ouf officer Wte soon 
convinced of the honest part that we were 
playing for once, and for fifty minufes of 
the hour we spent with him he and Raffks 
talked cricket without a break. On parting 
they even shook hands ; that was Long John 

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in the captem'^ head ; hut -the suq1) never 
addressed a syllable tO:Rie. 

And now to the gallows-bird who was 
stm corporal of our troop : it was tiot long 
before Raffles was to have his wish and 
the traitor's wicket. We had resumed our 
advance, or rather our humble part in the 
great surrounding movement then taking 
place, and were under pretty heavy fire 
once more, when Connal was shot in the 
hand. It was a curious casualty in more 
than one respect, and nobody seems to 
have seen it happen. Though a flesh- 
wound, it was a bloody one, and that may 
he why the surgeon did not at once detect 
those features which afterwards convinced 
him that the injury had been self-inflicted. 
It was the right hand, and until it healed 
the man could be of no further use in 
the firing line; nor was the case serious 
enough for admission to a crowded field- 
hospital; and CpiMial himself offered his 
services as custodian of a number of our 
horses whiqh we were keeping out lof 
harm's way in a donga. Xhey had come 
there in the ip^igyf'mg cnaoner. That mom- 
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Raffles 

ing we had been heliographed to reinforce 
the C.M.R., only to find that the enemy 
had the range to a nicety when we reached 
the spot. There were trenches for u^ men, 
but no place of safety for our horses nearer 
than this long and narrow donga which 
ran from within our lines towards those of 
the Boers. So some of us galloped them 
thither, six in-hand, amid the whine of 
shrapnel and the whistle of shot. I re- 
member the man next me being killed by 
a shell with all his team, and the tangle of 
flying harness, torn horseflesh, and crim- 
son khaki, that we left behind us on the 
veldt; also that a small red flag, ludi- 
crously like those used to indicate a put- 
ting-green, marked the single sloping en- 
trance to the otherwise precipitous donga, 
which I for one was duly thankful to reach 
alive. 

• The same evening Connal, with a few 
other light casualties to assist him, took 
over the charge for which he had volun- 
teered and for which he was so admirably 
fitted by his knowledge of horses and his 
general experience of the country ; never- 
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theless, he managed to lose three or four 
fine chargers in the course of the first 
night; and, early in the second, RafHes 
shook me out of a heavy slumber in the 
trenches where we had been firing all day. 

" I have found the spot, Bunny," he 
whispered ; " we ought to out him before 
the night is over." 

"Connal?" 

Raffles nodded. 

" You know what happened to some of 
his horses last night? Well, he let them 
go himself." 

" Never 1" 

" I'm as certain of it," said Raffles, " as 
though I'd seen him do it; and if he does 
it again I shall see him. I can even tell 
you how it happened. Connal insisted on 
having one end of the donga to himself, 
and of course his end is the one nearest 
the Boers. Well, then, he tells the other 
fellows to go to sleep at their end — I have 
it direct from one of them — and you bet 
they don't need a second invitation. The 
rest I hope to see to-night." 

*' It seems almost incredible," said I. 
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Raffles 

•*' Not more so than the Light Horse- 
man's dodge of poisoning the troughs ; that 
happened at Ladysmtth before Christmas ; 
and two kind friends did for that blackguard 
what you and I are going to do for this one, 
and a iiring-party did the rest. Brutes'! A 
mounted man's worth a file on foot in this 
country, and well they know it. But this 
beauty goes one. better than the poison; 
that was wilful waste ; but I'll eat my wide- 
awake if our loss last xiight wasn't the 
enemy's double gain 1 What we've got to 
do, Bunny, is to catch him in the act. It 
may mean watching him all night, but was 
ever game so well worth the candle?" 

One may say in passing that, at this par- 
ticular point of contact, the enemy were 
in superior fodrce, and for once in a mood 
as aggressive as our own. They were 
led with a dash, and handled with a skill, 
which did not always characterise their 
commanders at this stage of the war. Tbg^ix 
position was very similar to owes, and in- 
deed we were to spend the whole oi next 
day in trying witji an equal will to tlWi 
each other out. The result will .scarcely 

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The Knees of the Gods 

be forgotten by those who recognise the 
occasion from these remarks. Meanwhile 
it was the eve of battle (most evenings 
were), and there was that villain with the 
horses in the donga, and here were we two 
upon his track. 

RafHes's plan was to reconnoitre the 
place, and then take up a position from 
which we could watch our man and pounce 
upon him if he gave us cause. The spot 
that we eventuafly chose and stealthily oc- 
c'upterf was behind soift^ bushes through 
which we could see down into the doiTga; 
thef e were the precious horses ; aM there 
sure enough was our wotinded corporal, 
sitting smoking in his cloak, softie glim- 
mering thing HI his lap.- 

" That^s his revolver, tod ft's i Mauser," 
whispered' Raffles. ''He shan't have a 
chance 6i using it on os ; dther we must be 
on him* before he knows we are anywhere 
near, or simpfy report. It's easily proved 
once' we are sure ; but I should Kke to have 
the taking of him too." 

There was a setting' moon. Shadows 
were sharp and black. The man* smoked 

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steadily, and the hungry horses did "what 
I never saw horses do before ; they stood 
and nibbled at each other's tails. I was 
used to sleeping in the open, under the 
jewelled dome that seems so much vaster 
and grander in these wide spaces of the 
earth. I lay listening to the horses, and to 
the m3rriad small strange voices of the 
veldt, to which I cannot even now put a 
name, while Raffles watched, " One head 
is better than two," he said, "when you 
don't want it to be seen." We were to 
take watch and watch about, however, and 
the other might sleep if he could ; it was not 
my fault that I did nothing else; it was 
Raffles who could trust nobody but himself. 
Nor was there any time for recriminations 
when he did rouse me in the end. 

But a moment ago, as it seemed to me, I 
had been gazing upward at the stars and 
listening to the dear minute sounds of 
peace ; and in another the great grey slate 
was clean, and every bone of me set in 
plaster of Paris, and sniping beginning be- 
tween pickets with the day. It was an 
occasional crack, hot a constant crackle, 
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but the whistle of a bullet as it passed us 
by, or a tiny transitory flame for the one 
bit of detail on a blue hill-side, was an 
unpleasant warning that we two on ours 
were a target in ourselves. But Raffles paid 
no attention to their fire; he was pointing 
downward through the bushes to where 
Corporal Connal stood with his back to us, 
shooing a last charger out of the mouth 
of the donga towards the Boer trenches. 

"That's his third," whispered Raffles, 
" but it's the first I've seen distinctly, for 
he waited for the blind spot before the 
dawn. It's enough to land him, I fancy, 
but we mustn't lose time. Are you ready 
for a creep?" 

I stretched myself, and said I was ; but I 
devoutly wished it was not quite so early 
in the morning. 

" Like cats, then, till he hears, and then 
into him for all we're worth. He's stowed 
his iron safe away, but he mustn't have time 
even to feel for it- You take his left arm. 
Bunny, and hang on to that like a ferret, 
and I'll do the rest. Ready? Then now I" 

And in less time than it would take to 
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tell, we were over the Up of the donga 
and had faiUen up<Hi the fellow before he 
could turn his head ; nevertheless, for a few 
instants he fought like a wild beast, strik- 
ing, kicking, and swinging me off my feet 
as I obeyed my instructions to the letter, 
and stuck to his left like a leech. But he 
soon gave that up, and, panting and 
blasi^eming, demanded explanations in his 
hybrid tongue that had half a brogue and 
half a burr. What were we doing? What 
had he done? Raffles at his back, with his 
right wrist twisted fpund and pinrii^d into 
the ^mall of it, soon told him that, and I 
think the words must have bei^n the first 
intimation that he had as to who his assail* 
ants were. 

" So it's you two ! " he cri^d, and a light 
broke over him. He was no longer try- 
ing to shake us off, and now be dropped 
his curses also, and stood chuckling to him- 
self instead. " Well," he went on, " you're 
bloody liars both, but I know something 
else that you are, so you'd better let go." 

A coldness ran through me, and I never 
saw Raffles so taken aback. His grip must 
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have relaxed for a- fraction oi time, ftSr otlt 
captive broke out in a- fresh' aiid- d^feperaue 
strugfgle, but' ilbw We pinned- him tighter 
than ever*, and sooYi I saw him tUrfliflg 
gteett and 3^1Iow with the pain.- 

" You'rfe breaking my wrist! " he yelled 
at last. 

" Then stand still and tell Us wh<> we aise." 

And he stood still and told us out? real 
names. But Rafflies insisted on^ hearing 
how he had found us out, and smiled^ as 
though he had known what was coming 
when it came. I was durtlfoundered. The 
accursed hound* had followed us that eveni- 
ing to Captain BelUngham's teiit, and his 
undoubted cleverness in his own profession 
of spy had done the rest. 

" And now you- d better let me go," said 
the master of the situation^ as I for one 
could not help regarding him* 

"I'll see you damned/' said Raffles, 
savagely. 

"Then you're damned and done for 

yourself, my cocky criminal. Raffles the 

burglar! Raffles^ the society thief! Not 

dead after all, but 'live and 'listed! Send 

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Raffles 

him home and give him fourteen years, and 
won't he like 'em, that's all ! " 

" I shall have the pleasure of hearing you 
shot first," retorted Raffles, through his 
teeth, "and that alone will make them 
bearable. Come on, Bunny, let's drive the 
swine along and get it over." 

And drive him we did, he cursing, cajol- 
ing, struggling, gloating, and blubbering by 
turns. But Raffles never wavered for an 
instant, though his face was tragic, and it 
went to my heart, where that look stays 
still. I remember at the time, though I 
never let my hold relax, there was a moment 
when I added my entreaties to those of our 
prisoner. Raffles did not even reply to me. 
But I was thinking of him, I swear. I was 
thinking of that grey set face that I never 
saw before or after. 

"Your story will be tested," said the 
commanding officer, when Connal had been 
marched to the guard-tent. " Is there any 
truth in his?" 

" It is perfectly true, sir." 

" And the notorious Raffles has been alive 
all these years, and you are really he? " 
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''lam, sir." 

" And what are you doing at the front? '* 

Somehow I thought that Raffles was go- 
ing to smile, but the grim set of his mouth 
never altered, neither was there any change 
in the ashy pallor which had come over him 
in the donga when Connal mouthed his 
name. It was only his eyes that lighted up 
at the last question. 

" I am fighting, sir," said he, as simply 
as any subaltern in the army. 

The commanding officer inclined a griz- 
zled head perceptibly, and no more. He 
was not one of any school, our General ; he 
had his own ways, and we loved both him 
and them ; and I believe that he loved the 
rough but gallant corps that bore his name. 
He once told us that he knew something 
about most of us, and there were things 
that Raffles had done of which he must 
have heard. But he only moved his griz- 
zled head. 

" Did you know he was going to give yott 
away ? " he asked at length, with a jerk ol 
it toward the guard-tent. 

" Yes, sir." 

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"But you thought it worth while^ did 
yoo?" 

" I thought it necessary, sir." 

The General paused, drumming on his 
table, making up his mind. Then bis chin 
came up with the decision ttot we loved in 
him. 

" I shall sift an this,^ said he. "An offi- 
cer's name was mentioned, and I shall see 
bim myself. Meanwhile you bad better go 
on — ^fighting." 

IV 

Corporal Connal paid the penalty of 
bis crime before the sun was far above the 
hill held by the enemy. There was abun- 
dance of circumstantial evidence against 
him, besides the direct testimony of Raf- 
fles and myself, and the wretch was shot 
at last with little ceremony and less shrift. 
And that was the one good thing that hap- 
pened on the day that broke upon us 
hiding behind the bushes overlooking the 
donga ; by noon it was my own turn. 

I have avoided speaking of my wound 
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before I need, and from the preceding pages 
you would not gather that I am more or 
less lame for life. You will soon see now 
why I was in no hurry to recall the incident. 
I used to think of a wound received in one's 
country's service as the proudest trophy a 
man could acquire. But the sight of mine 
depresses me every morning of my life ; it 
was due for one thing to my own slow eye 
for cover, in taking which (to aggravate 
my case) our hardy little corps happened 
to excel 

The bullet went clean through my thigh, 
drilling the bone, but happily missing the 
sciatic nerve ; thus the mere pain was less 
than it might have been, but of course I 
went over in a light brown heap. We were 
advancing on our stomachs to take the hill, 
and thus extend our position, and it was at 
this point that the fire became too heavy 
for us, so that for hours (in the event) we 
moved neither forward nor back. But it 
was not a minute before RafHes came to me 
through the whistling scud, and in another 
I was on my back behind a shallow rock^ 
with him kneeling over me and unrolling 
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my bandage in the teeth of that murderous 
fire. It was on the knees of the gods, he 
said, when I begged him to bend lower, but 
for the moment I thought his tone as 
changed as his face had been earlier in the 
morning. To oblige me, however, he took 
more care ; and, when he had done all that 
one comrade could for another, he did avail 
himself of the cover he had found for me. 
So there we lay together on the veldt, under 
blinding sun and withering fire, and I sup- 
pose it is the veldt that I should describe, 
as it swims and flickers before wounded 
eyes. I shut mine to bring it back, but all 
that comes is the keen brown face of Raf- 
fles, still a shade paler than its wont ; now 
bending to sight and fire ; now peering to 
see results, brows raised, eyes widened; 
anon turning to me with the word to set 
my tight lips grinning. He was talking all 
the time, but for my sake, and I knew it. 
Can you wonder that I could not see an 
inch beyond him ? He was the battle to me 
then ; he is the whole war to me as I look 
back now. 

" Feel equal to a cigarette? It will buck 
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you up, Bunny. No, that one in the silver 
paper, I've hoarded it for this. Here's a 
light; and so Bunny takes the Sullivan! 
All honour to the sporting rabbit ! " 

" At least I went over like one," said I, 
sending the only clouds into the blue, and 
chiefly wishing for their longer endurance. 
I was as hot as a cinder from my head to 
one foot ; the other leg was ceasing to be- 
long to me. 

" Wait a bit," says Raffles, puckering ; 
"there's a grey felt hat at deep long-on, 
and I want to add it to the bag for ven- 
geance. . . . Wait — yes — ^no, no luck! 
I must pitch 'em up a bit more. Hallo 1 
magazine empty. How goes the Sullivan, 
Bunny? Rum to be smoking one on the 
veldt with a hole in your leg ! " 

" It's doing me good," I said, and I be- 
lieve it was. But Rafiles lay looking at me 
as he lightened his bandolier. 

"Do you remember," he said softly, 
" the day we first began to think about the 
war? I can see that pink misty river light, 
and feel the first bite there was in the air 
when one stood about ; don't you wish we 
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had either here! 'Orful slorter^ orful 
slorter ; ' that fellow's face, I see it too; and 
here we have the thing he cried. Can you 
believe it's only six moAths ago ? " 

" Yes// I sighed, enjoying the thought of 
that afternoon less than he did ; " yes, we 
were slow to catch fire at first." 

" Too slow," he said quickly. 

" But when we did catch," I went on, 
wishing we never had, " we soon burnt up." 

**And then went out," laughed Raffles 
gayly. He was loaded up again. " Another 
over at the grey felt hat," said he; "by 
Jove, though, I believe he's having an over 
at me ! " 

" I wish you'd be careful," I urged. " I 
beard it too." 

" My dear Bunny, it's on the knees you 
wot of. If anything^s down in the specifi- 
cation$ surely that is. Besides— that was 
nearer ! " 

"To you?" 

" No, to him. Poor devil, he has his 

specifications too; it's comforting to think 

that. ... I can't see where that one 

pitched ; it may have been a wide ; and it'3 

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very nearly the end of the over again. Feel- 
ing worse, Bunny ? " 

" No, IVe only closed my eyes. Go on 
talking." 

" It was I who let you in for this," he 
said, at his bandolier again. 

" No, I'm g^ad I came out." 

And I believe I still was, in a way ; for it 
was rather fine to be wounded, just then, 
with the pain growing less; but the sensa- 
tion was not to last me many minutes, and 
I can truthfully say that I have never felt 
it since. 

" Ah, but, you haven't had such a good 
time as I have ! " 

" Perhaps not." 

Had his voice vibrated, or had I imag- 
ined it ? Pain-waves and lofis of blood were 
playing tricks with my senses; now they 
were quite dull, and my leg alive and thrcb- 
. bing ; now I had no leg at all, but more than 
all my ordinary senses in every other part 
of me. And the devil's orchestra was -play- 
ing all the time, and all around tne, on 
every class of fiendish instrument, which 
you have been made to hear for yourselves 
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in every newspaper. Yet all that I heard 
was Raffles talking. 

" I have had a good time, Bunny." 

Yes, his voice was sad; but that was 
all; the vibration must have been in me. 

" I know you have, old chap," said I. 

" I am grateful to the General for giving 
me to-day. It may be the last. Then I 
can only say it's been the best — ^by Jove ! " 

"What is it?" 

And I opened my eyes. His were shining. 
I can see them now. 

" Got him — ^got the hat I No, Fm hanged 
if I have; at least he wasn't. in it. The 
crafty cuss, he must have stuck it up on 
purpose. Another over . . . scoring's 
slow. ... I wonder if he's sportsman 
enough to take a hint? His hat-trick's 
foolish. Will he show his face if I show 
mine ? " 

I lay with closed ears and eyes. My leg 
had come to life again, and the rest of me 
was numb. 

"Bunny!" 

His voice sounded higher. He must 
have been sitting upright. 
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''Well?" 

But it was not well with me ; that was all 
I thought as my lips made the word. 

" It's not only been the best time I ever 
had, old Bunny, but Fm not half sure— — " 

Of what I can but guess ; the sentence 
was not finished, and never could be in 
this world. 



THE END 



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OTHER BOOKS BY MR. HORNUNG 

The 
Amateur Cracksman 

30th Thousand, I2m0y $1.2^. The titles of 
the stories are: 

I. Tbe Ides of March V. Wilful Murder 

II« A Ck>8tcune Piece YI. Kine Points of the Law 

m. Gentlemeii and Players vn. The Return Match 

IV. Le Premier Pas Vm. The Gift of the Bmperor 

" For sheer excitement and inventive genius 
the burglarian exploits of ' The Amateur Cracks- 
man ' carry off the palm. Raffles is as distinct 
and convincing a creation as Sherlock 
Holme»." — The Bookman. 

" Raffles is amazing ; his resource is perfect ; 
he talks like a gentleman and acts like one, 
except when occupied with pressing business in 
another man's house, at midnight, and naturally 
he has a * cool nerve/ a nerve positively arctic. 
They all have nerves like that, these Raffleses. " 
— New York Tribune. 

Dead MenTell NoTales 

A Novel. I2m0y $i.2j 

** In this novel, as in the psevions ones firom 
Mr. Homung's pen, there is a wealth of well- 
handled incidents. It is story-telling of the 
mo^ direct kind and holds the attention from 
the first page to the last. Mr. Homung seems 
to us in each succeeding book from his pen to 
gain in confidence and authority, and we do 
not hesitate to place him among the first of the 
comparErtrrety new writers wiio must be reck- 
oned with.'' — Literature. 



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OTHER BOOKS BY MR. HORNUNG 

— ^ 

Some Persons 
Unknown 

** In about half-a-dozen cases the scene is laid 
in Australia, and the dramatic and tragic aspects 
of Colonial life are treated by Mr. Homung 
with that happy union of vigor and sympathy 
which has stood him in such good stead in his 
earlier novels." — London Spectator^ 



In the Ivory Series. Each i6mo, jrj cents : 

The Boss of Taroomba 

*' There are passages in E. W. Homung's 
latest story, * The Boss of Taroomba/ which 
remind us by their vividness and fantastic quality 
of Stevenson in some of his South Sea Island 
tales. • . • The hero is an uncommon 
creation even for fiction." 

— Chicago Times-Herald. 

A Bride from the Bush 

** Mr. E. W. Hornung is one of the most 
successful delineators of Bush life." 

'^Chicago Tribune. 

Irralie's Bushranger 

** A capital little story of Australian love «nd 
adventiure. There is no flagging in the press 
and stir of the story." — T%e Nation^ 



Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 



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OTHER BOOKS BY MR. HORNUNG 

The Rogue's March 

A Romance. J2tna^ $1*50 

*« Mr. Homung has succeeded admirably in 
his object : his AustraUan scenes are a veritable 
nightmare; they sear the imagination, and it 
will be some time before we get Hookey Simpson, 
the clank of the chains, and the hero's degrada- 
tion off our mind.* ' — London Saturday Review. 

'•Vividly and vigorously told." 

— London Academy. 



Each J2m0f $1.23 : 

My Lord Duke 

**Mr. Homung is a natural humorist, and 
has the art of telling a story." 

— Philadelphia Evening Telegraph. 

** It is pleasant to turn to a real story by a 

real story-writer. Such is ' My Lord Duke.' 

. . . Its story is its own, both in plot and 

in characterization. It is a capital little novel.'* 

—The Nation. 

Young Blood 

"Whether Lowndes be entirely realized or 
not does not much matter ; the conception of 
him is already a distinction. He is an advent- 
urer of genius, but not built on the usual lines. 
. • . And his vitality is inexhaustible. We 
leave him, not without a stain upon his char- 
acter, but with considerable regret in our 
minds." — The Bookman. 



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OTHER BOOKS BY MR. HORNUNG 



^'Peecavi' k at once tfie most serious and tfae 
ftrongest novel that has issued from Mr* Homong's 
engaging pen« • • A striking and admicaUe 

^^^•"^ --The Spectator. 



PECCAVI 

j2mo, $1.^0 

''It must be said that the erring parson b a fine 
figure, standing aloof^ yet never passive in his awful 
solitude. He works out a grand and unselfish 
salvation in an heroic way." 

— The Athenaum^ 



AT LARGE 

** Once more, he gives us a book decidedly 
entertaining to read.** 

— New York Tribune. 

«* More life and go than in most recent fiction 
and it is told so well that it has not a smgle dull 

page-" 

— San Francisco Chronicle. 

Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 



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